The province is signalling a shift in their approach to taking on homelessness in B.C. with $633 million in funding commitments announced in the 2022 budget.
At a news conference on Thursday (March 17) multiple cabinet ministers spoke on the government’s efforts to expand services, support and access to care for homeless people in the province.
Ministers went through a number of previously announced funding commitments, including $35 million over the next three years for new supports for youth in care up to age 27, a $600-per-month rent supplement that will help approximately 3,000 people over the next three years, doubling the number of community integration specialists to help homeless people navigate government support programs, and invest $164 million to expand B.C.’s complex-care housing program.
Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, faced questions about which communities would see complex-care housing facilities after she announced that 20 facilities were on the way.
Malcolmson did not specify which communities would be getting the facilities but noted that the province worked closely with the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus and the Union of BC Municipalities to develop the program. She added that the province is working to make complex-care housing available across the province and the province would have further details to announce soon.
A further $264 million is being invested over the next three years for a permanent housing plan to ensure the roughly 3,000 people who were temporarily housed at BC Housing facilities during the pandemic.
B.C.’s Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing David Eby said that more rental housing is urgently needed in every part of the province. He said he has ‘little time’ for arguments against new rental projects being developed and that the housing crisis required rapid action at the municipal level.
On Wednesday (March 16), the province released a report of anonymized data that showed 23,000 unique people experienced homelessness in 2019 and on average, 9,300 unique people experienced homelessness each month.