'Working poor' and homeless get transitional housing

The 40 men sleeping in a temporary shelter were overlooked when long-term places were found to clear out Victoria's tent city encampment.

When tent city residents received long-term places, the group of 40 sober, stable men were overlooked

Our Place spokesperson Grant McKenzie says the move to transitional housing means 40 men will no longer have to pack up their belongings each morning and leave. (Sterling Eyford/CBC)

A vacant building which previously sheltered tent city residents reopened Wednesday in Victoria with a new clientele.

The building on Yates at Camosun Street, known as My Place, will offer temporary transitional housing to a group of 40 men who have been staying at an overnight shelter in a local church for more than a year.

Grant McKenzie, the communications director of Our Place, which will run the shelter, said when tent city residents were placed in long-term housing last year the men, who were not part of the encampment, were overlooked.

"A lot of them are the working poor, so they're people who aren't trapped in their addiction," McKenzie said.

"By moving them into My Place, they'll be more stable. They'll be able to store their belongings. They'll have access to a shower, hot meals," he said. "And it's that next step towards getting them into housing."

McKenzie says the aim is to find each of the men a place to live by the end of six months.

The former Boys and Girls Club building has sat vacant since earlier this year after a shelter for former tent city residents was wound down. (Google Maps)

He said most of them are sober and over 50, making them good candidates to move into the Mount Edwards facility on Vancouver Street, once renovations are done.

Work underway on the second floor of the Mount Edwards building, now operated by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, will provide supportive housing apartments for older residents who are mostly self-sufficient.

The My Place location sat empty since closing its initial shelter operations earlier this year.

'A real solid group of people'

Meanwhile, the overnight shelter in the First Metropolitan Church was full and about 25 people a night were turned away, McKenzie said.

"Because the First Met Shelter has been open for such a long time — now permanently — we've got a real solid group of people in there," he said.

"So, what we felt we could do is, we could take the stable population, move them into the My Place centre, and then that would open up 40 spaces at First Met for people coming right off the streets, so we could try to get those people stabilized."

With files from Emily Brass.