A number of the initiatives now in place to help deal with homeless in the Cowichan Valley, including the sleeping cabin sites, could soon be expanded and enhanced.
John Horn, executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association and co-chairman of the COVID-19 Vulnerable Populations Cowichan Task Force told Duncan’s city council last week that the task force is hoping to partner with local governments to apply for a $2.5-million grant from the UBCM Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program.
He said if the funding application is successful, eight temporary sleeping cabins for the homeless, with wrap-around services, would be set up at a site in Lake Cowichan, and a third site for sleeping cabins would be established in Duncan that would add 20 more units.
Horn said the Town of Ladysmith would also have incremental services, including outreach support, added to the town’s existing shelter facility.
He said the funding would also be used to develop and implement peer-based programs to address community concerns about discarded syringes, litter, anti-social activities occurring in public, graffiti and other related issues.
“If the application is successful, we would have to spend the money within 12 months,” Horn said.
“We want to convince BC Housing to continue to [financially] support our programs for the homeless in the Valley, so if we could use this funding to increase the size of our projects and demonstrate that they are viable and functioning, we could be able to get an ongoing commitment from BC Housing to support these sites. BC Housing has made noises that they like what we are doing here, and they see it as a viable way to move forward on homeless issues.”
Horn said to get the full $2.5 million requested, each local government in the Valley, including the Town of Lake Cowichan, Municipality of North Cowichan, Town of Ladysmith and the City of Duncan, must pass resolutions that clearly state approval for the primary applicant, which would be the Cowichan Valley Regional District, to apply for and manage the grant funding on their behalf.
Duncan council unanimously passed its motion to support the application at the meeting after Horn’s presentation.