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$11.3M to create Island homes for Indigenous people experiencing homelessness

Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness housing to offer 24/7 culturally-appropriate supports
A new residence with 45 housing units will be built at 865 Catherine St., and run by the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society. (Google Maps)

A new building operated by the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness will rise in Victoria by next spring.

This summer the federal government allotted $11.3 million for the Capital Regional District through its rapid housing initiative. Friday (Nov. 5), Ahmed Hussen, federal minister of housing and diversity and inclusion announced the partner and site, 865 Catherine St. for the new housing development.

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Today’s funding through the Rapid Housing Initiative will go a long way to support those who need it most by quickly providing 45 new affordable homes for Indigenous populations of the Capital Regional District, to keep them safe,” he said.

The four-storey modular housing project will provide residents with 24/7 culturally-appropriate support to Indigenous people experiencing homelessness.

Coreen Child, executive director for the coalition, voiced excitement at the opportunity to create a building filled with love and celebration of culture while promoting decolonizing harm-reduction measures.

READ ALSO: New supportive housing complex for Indigenous women opens in Victoria

“I have seen the ability of what land-use healing can provide for our people. … This space is going to be able to allow us to explore new pathways to provide cultural supportive housing through an Indigenous lens,” she said.

The group is working closely with local First Nations to follow cultural protocols, and held a ground breaking and honour of the land.

Speaking on behalf of the city, Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow noted one in four area households do not have access to suitable or affordable housing and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the funding gaps.

“Like many other cities the City of Victoria is facing a housing crisis. Today is really exciting to have all levels of government to deliver a project which guarantees access to dignity, well being and quality of life,” he said.

READ ALSO: 28 years to save for a Greater Victoria home down payment: Bank report

The province is committed $5.7 million through the Building BC: Supportive Housing Fund along with annual operating subsidies.

“It’s essential for everyone to keep working together so no one is forced to sleep outside or in an unsafe situation,” said Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill.

The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness also manages Spaken House, also known as Flower House, a two-storey apartment building on Hillside Avenue with 21 supportive homes for Indigenous women.

Hussen noted the project must be completed in 12 months or less and will create also jobs in the region.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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