As human beings, shelter is one of our most fundamental needs. It falls along the same lines as clean air and water, clothing to keep us warm and dry, and a good night’s sleep. Considering the instability of the ongoing pandemic, the sky-high prices in the housing market, and the national affordability crisis — it’s no wonder housing is on the forefront of many British Columbians’ minds.
There’s a lot of buzz happening in housing right now in the city of Nanaimo. Here are some key developments that make your community stand out, as everyone works together to bounce back from its homelessness crisis.
Grant Funding Successes
The City of Nanaimo learned this summer that they’ve won a couple of grants to help tackle homelessness. They were 1 of 6 BC communities chosen to receive funding to complete provincial Housing Needs Reports. These reports are an opportunity for local communities to collect and share data on current and anticipated housing needs so the province can act accordingly. Mayor Leonard Krog is hopeful this funding will help Nanaimo bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.
“Local governments and First Nations know their communities best […] Understanding the specific housing needs in communities is part of working together to continue to build and support healthy and resilient communities throughout BC, now and into the future.”
The City of Nanaimo also won a $2.5 million grant from senior levels of government. Part of the Strengthening Communities’ Services Grant Program, the money will be used to support unsheltered homeless people for both the Snuneymuxw First Nation and Nanaimo communities.
This funding is significant as these communities recover from the impacts of the ongoing pandemic. Back in 2018, 23% of the city’s 68,000 renters saw themselves at risk of homelessness — and it’s only gotten worse.
“Homelessness has hit Nanaimo hard, and the pandemic made everything worse […] Homelessness hurts everyone – the people living it, first responders, and the businesses affected.”
Boom in Supportive Housing
Four permanent supportive housing projects are in the works, totaling 190 units, mostly located in Nanaimo’s South End neighbourhood. Supportive housing is for British Columbians currently experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The new housing projects are intended to replace the temporary ones currently on Terminal Avenue and Labieux Road.
There have been some construction delays in getting these buildings off the ground, so the city is looking to extend the lease on the Labieux property — ensuring 90 units of temporary supportive housing remain available for a couple more years.
As these projects get built, the city is already looking for 2 new permanent sites. City Councillor Tyler Brown wants to take a proactive approach to securing permanent supportive housing. All too often he notices residents getting involved in later stages of the process, when properties have already been purchased and plans have been drawn. Brown wants to get residents involved now.
“I believe if we are to shift from a little bit of reactive [approach] and hopefully get to as proactive as we can possibly be around these challenges, we do need to show up with some land that is more thoughtfully purchased and has the luxury of time to be a little bit more strategic than some of the sites that have emerged.”
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