The British Columbian government has managed to provide housing for more than 200 homeless Canadians while simultaneously bringing economic support to struggling hotels during the COVID-19 crisis.
This week, provincial legislators purchased the Comfort Inn Hotel in Victoria for $18.5 million as a means of sheltering homeless people living in street encampments amidst the pandemic.
In addition to the hotel being equipped with 65 rooms for temporary accommodations, the province is also rehiring laid-off hotel workers to help manage the facility
“Often people experiencing homelessness are not able to access the support and services they need,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The purchase of the Comfort Inn, combined with medical and social supports, will help people make the transition from the street to permanent housing.”
This is not the first facility that the province has purchased to accommodate homeless people. In the city of Prince Rupert, the province purchased the former Raffles Inn motel in order to convert it it into a permanent supportive housing building with up to 48 units, each with private washrooms, showers and mini kitchens. Once complete, the building will have the capacity for a 35-space temporary shelter or an extreme weather response shelter by 2021.
Both of these purchases are part of a province-wide mission to build roughly 3,300 new affordable housing units for seniors, Indigenous people, low-income families, women and children escaping abuse, students, and people experiencing—or at risk of—homelessness.
According to the BC Housing Twitter page, 289 rough sleepers have already been moved into temporary housing for the duration of the pandemic.
“This is a substantial investment in our community and will provide housing for those who need it most,” says Lisa Helps, mayor of the city of Victoria. “This site has significant redevelopment potential to provide a range of affordable housing in the long term. I look forward to working with the community and with BC Housing to determine the long-term use of this site.”
People will have access to services such as meals, health-care services, addictions treatment and harm reduction, storage for personal belongings and other supports, including 24/7 staffing to provide security to residents of the building and the surrounding neighborhood.
New homes are on the way for Victoria residents who need them most. The Province bought the Comfort Inn Hotel at 3020 Blanshard St. for housing with supports. Later, the site could provide a range of affordable housing: https://t.co/675ebC6RQE @CityOfVictoria @VanIslandHealth pic.twitter.com/HqvVaY4dNt
— BC Housing (@BC_Housing) May 15, 2020
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