New funding to 'break cycle of homelessness' in B.C.: premier
Advocates want permanent housing solutions
Last Updated: Friday, October 12, 2007 | 9:37 PM PT
The B.C. government is providing an additional $41 million for housing to try to get some of the estimated 2,200 homeless people off the streets and into shelters and assistance programs.
The B.C. government says homelessness attacks the dignity of citizens.
Premier Gordon Campbell made the announcement at the Yukon Shelter in Vancouver's east side Friday, accompanied by Housing Minister Rich Coleman and other civic officials.
"I'm here to tell you that we're going to take a number of steps to help break the cycle of homelessness," Campbell said.
He said the money will be spent in four areas:
- Keeping shelters open 24 hours a day.
- Expanding outreach services.
- Providing 750 rent supplemented units.
- Paying for the pre-development costs of city-owned sites to make way for low-cost housing.
"It feels like sometimes it's a never-ending problem, but it's a problem that we can deal with if we take it one step at a time [and] if we invest in a way that is deliberate," Campbell said.
The government is also increasing the supply of affordable housing so that people have a more stable base to improve their lives, the premier said.
New outreach services would be established in Campbell River, Comox, Courtenay, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Nelson and Vernon.
First Nations people unable to find accommodation will benefit from $500,000 "specifically targeted" to help them find places to live, Campbell said.
'I'm really disappointed'
However, some homeless advocates said they were not impressed by the government's announcement.
Cynthia Low, a spokeswoman for the Aboriginal Women's Centre in the Downtown Eastside, says improving emergency shelter services is a small step in the right direction.
"I'm really disappointed," said Robert Bonner, a spokesman for Carnegie Community Action Project, a support agency located in the Downtown Eastside. "They talk about Band-Aid solutions. Well, Band-Aids are still bleeding."
"We are a little disappointed but as usual we are optimistic that this is a small step in the right direction," said Cynthia Low, a spokeswoman for the Aboriginal Women's Centre.
David Eby, an advocate with the PIVOT Legal Society, which fights for the rights of marginalized people, said he expected more from a government flush with money.
"It's actually very frustrating," Eby said. "It's a very old model of dealing with homelessness, because it's very expensive, it's not free and it doesn't solve the problem."
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