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Mid-Island groups to receive $3 million from Ottawa to deal with homeless issues

Recipients include the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society’s new women’s shelter
The federal government has committed $3 million from its Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy program for initiatives to deal with homeless issues in the Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo . Pictured is a homeless camp that sprung up in Duncan’s Charles Hoey Park in 2017. (Citizen file photo)

Agencies and organizations in the Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo that deal with homeless issues will share $3 million from Ottawa to help pay for programs and initiatives.

The United Way BC is in charge of distributing the funding from the Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy program.

The amounts for each non-profit and agency in the region earmarked to receive the money have not yet been disclosed.

In Duncan, the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society intends to use its share of the funding to support the purchase, renovation, and operation of a women’s shelter, called Charlotte’s Place, which will be a safe place of community and security for women experiencing homelessness.


“Support from Reaching Home has been instrumental in allowing CWAV to secure a stable future for both Charlotte’s Place women’s shelter and our homelessness-prevention program,” said Jessica Lewinski, CWAV’s communications and development director.

“The funding structure is deliberate and thoughtful, addressing the needs of those experiencing homelessness and those needing support to prevent loss of housing. This multifaceted community-based lens is what is needed to fully address the housing crisis.”

Other monies from the program will go to the Cowichan Housing Association for a number of projects, including the CHA’s periodic homeless counts that serve as a “snapshot” of how many unsheltered people there are at any given time to assist the development of programs and services.

The CHA will also receive funding for its Housing-Loss Prevention Program which offers need-based practical assistance through information and referrals to people at risk of becoming homeless.


As well, the Clements Centre will receive funding for its Supported Independent Living Program which provides emergency assistance to people facing eviction and short-term financial assistance to help people retain or acquire housing; and Cowichan Green Community will get financial support for a program that supports youth who are street entrenched or at risk of becoming homeless.

“Ending homelessness in Canada is achieved one vulnerable person at a time, community by community,” said Ahmed Hussen, minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion.

“This is why the government is taking key actions to gather the data necessary to understand and address the unique confluence of causes, issues, and supports required within a community. Our government is proud to partner with local organizations running vital programs to prevent and address homelessness in communities across the country. The programs we’re investing in aren’t just paths to a roof; they are building safer, better lives, leaving no one behind.”

Other local groups that will receive Reaching Home funding are Malahat Nation, Cowichan Lake Community Services Society, Cowichan Tribes, Lookout Housing and Health Society, Hiiye’yu Lelum House of Friendship, and Kw’umut Lelum.

Vicky Trill, United Way BC’s Reaching Home manager, said it’s known that homelessness, in all its forms, is a growing issue for communities across B.C. and Canada, and there are no easy solutions or answers.

“Reaching Home funding is crucial to addressing the unique issues and causes within a community,” she said.

“Who better to respond than the non-profit organizations at the forefront of service provision? I’m excited about these projects and working with the organizations to achieve their goals over the next two years.”

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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