One of the tents on the site is pictured on April 4, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio
COURTENAY, B.C. – The Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness is hopeful that a solution will be found for people living on the streets.
A group of residents have set up tents in a fenced lot at the corner of England Avenue and 5th Street, in Courtenay.
As of now, the city has not made any moves to clear the site.
Speaking with 98.9 The Goat on Saturday, Coalition to End Homelessness coordinator, Andrea Cupelli, said there are a lot of homeless people who are “basically going from camp to camp to camp.”
“What that indicates to the coalition is that there really is a huge issue with a lack of supportive housing in the Comox Valley,” she said.
“This is something that we have been pushing to achieve with the City of Courtenay and the Village of Cumberland.”
She explained that supportive housing assists those who are the “hardest to house”, and provides 24-hour, 7 days a week support.
“It’s just that landing space for people to go. So those who are homeless and sleeping in camps would have a safe, warm space to live and have access to programs for mental health and substance use,” Cupelli said.
“The provincial government has funding for supportive, modular house. I think they have funding for 2,000 units and about 1,000 units have been filled up as of now.”
She said what’s now needed is land, a partnership with municipal government, as well as a builder for those housing units and an agency to provide the 24/7 support to residents in need.
Cupelli said there are three agencies they have in mind that are qualified for the task, while BC Housing would determine the builder for any future projects.
“We’re kind of checking off the boxes and waiting for good news about land being available in our community,” she said.
Cupelli added that conversations with local governments have been positive.
“All of these situations that have been coming up are really bringing to light the issue of homelessness in our community. It’s not something that’s going to go away, it’s something that is going to get worse with a 0.5 per cent vacancy rate and all sorts of issues affecting affordable housing,” she said.
“They (local governments) have been really great with working with the coalition. It does take time and it’s a matter of them doing what they need to do to get land ready. We’re waiting patiently on any good news that might possibly come up.”
Cupelli said residents can get involved with the coalition by visiting the group’s website at cvhousing.ca, or visiting them on Facebook.
She can also be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m happy to talk about supportive housing or any of the initiatives that we are doing to reduce homelessness in the Valley,” she said.
“We’re doing what we can and rallying to get some support for these people who are sleeping rough and camping in our community.”