Provinces across Canada face similar issues as attempts are made to provide housing to homeless citizens. In British Columbia, the provincial government is acting on several fronts, across a spectrum of programs, from emergency shelters to temporary, transitional, and social housing — and acting to preventing homelessness in the first place for those who are precariously housed.
A 2018 homelessness count in Campbell River [link opens to PDF] identified 81 people as experiencing homelessness. 49 per-cent of those where sheltered while 51% were unsheltered. 59% were male, 40% were female and 1% had other gender identities. A whopping 41% of the homeless individuals in Campbell River had previously been in foster care, a youth group home, or under a youth agreement. 46% self-identified as Indigenous.
In early July 2020, the Province of British Columbia, through B.C. Housing, purchased the former Rose Bowl Restaurant building in Campbell River. The building was renovated and now provides bridge housing for 20 individuals from the local area who were previously homeless. Vancouver Island Mental Health Society manages the temporary housing. It’s called bridge housing because permanent supportive housing is also being built in the community.
Additionally, a new 50-unit building is under construction at 580 Dogwood Street in Campbell River. The project will provide permanent supportive homes for people living at the former Rose Bowl Restaurant bridge housing, as well as other locals experiencing homelessness. Once the supportive housing project is complete and the bridge housing residents have moved in, BC Housing will consult with the community about redeveloping the Rose Bowl site into an affordable housing project.
Kristi Schwanicke is the housing and program manager working for Vancouver Island Mental Health Society in Campbell River. Kristi recently spoke to People First Radio about the work in Campbell River. Listen to the interview.
Image: VIMHS Campbell River housing and program manager Kristi Schwanicke near the entrance of the Rose Bowl bridge housing project.