WATCH: Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness releases plan to create hundreds of new units of housing over the next five years. April Lawrence reports.
You don’t have to look far at Our Place Society during the lunch hour to find someone struggling to find housing.
“You can’t get an apartment here, there is no apartments available right now, it’s impossible to get one,” said Danielle Gibbons-McMillen.
Raven James said he got drunk Monday night just so he could have a warm, dry place to sleep at the Sobering Centre.
While it may not help them find a warm and secure place to sleep tonight, a five-year plan announced Tuesday by the Greater Victoria the Coalition to End Homelessness may provide some hope for the future.
“What we’re looking at is providing an estimated population of about 308 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness with housing and support options,” said Don Elliott, Executive Director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness.
The Coalition will take $60 million provided by the Capital Regional District and the provincial government to build 266 new units of homeless housing.
They also plan to house 175 people in existing supportive housing by creating more efficiencies in the system.
But with waiting lists at every shelter, some are skeptical.
“I don’t know where that number comes from, there’s 100 people I know that need housing today,” said Grant McKenzie with Our Place Society.
The plan calls for 50 homeless people to be moved into existing housing in this first year, with a focus on First Nations and youth.
“It was clear that Aboriginal people and young people are very very vulnerable and need housing,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“Over 200 people in the region who are homeless are under 18, it’s shocking,” she said.
The CRD wants the new housing facilities to also include more than 400 low-income units — another huge need in a city with a vacancy rate of less than one per cent.
The first new units won’t be ready for at least two years, leaving those on the streets feeling hopeful but conflicted as they prepare for yet another winter outdoors.
“It kind of sucks, to walk around saying we deserve this when we don’t feel like we do,” said an emotional Gibbons-McMillen.