The United Way in Nanaimo will use a million-dollar grant from the federal government in its efforts to mitigate homelessness.
In an e-mail, United Way said that close to $1.8 million will be allocated through the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home homelessness strategy for services and programs to aid those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, “and to access or sustain safe, stable, and affordable housing.”
Julie Rushton, United Way B.C.’s community impact and investment manager, told the News Bulletin that 16 area organizations put forward requests and a community advisory board will direct the money. There is “a new wave of homelessness,” said Rushton, and United Way is not only seeing people experiencing homelessness because of “complex issues,” but the rising cost of living as well.
“We’re seeing people that have full-time jobs, who are living in their car,” she said. “We’re seeing people not being able to pay their rent because they’re paying for their food. So definitely an increase in the asks around funding through Reaching Home.”
Money will also go toward a “point-in-time” count in Nanaimo on April 27. The count will give insight into the homelessness situation, offering “a measure of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a specific day” and guiding decisions on program development and services, a press release noted.
Homelessness is prominent not only in Nanaimo, but across the country, and United Way said it is providing the Reaching Home money to non-profit organizations to address the problems.
“There are no easy solutions or answers,” said Vicky Trill, United Way B.C.’s Reaching Home manager, in the press release. “Reaching Home funding is crucial to addressing the unique issues and causes within a community. Who better to respond than the non-profit organizations at the forefront of service provision?”
Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s minister of housing, said the government is proud to partner with community organizations running “vital” programs to prevent and address homelessness.
“The programs we’re investing in aren’t just paths to a roof – they are building safer, better lives, leaving no one behind,” Hussen said in the press release.
Rushton said volunteers are sought for the April 27 count. For more information, go to www.uwbc.ca.
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