An unprecedented temporary housing project is just weeks away from welcoming 30 previously unhoused residents into their own tiny homes.
The Tiny Home Village, constructed in the Royal Athletic Park parking lot, is one of several sheltering solutions the City of Victoria has developed to move campers out of parks. But, instead of sleeping in an arena, a shelter bunk bed or a repurposed motel, the tiny home residents will spend the next 18 months in a 160 square-foot storage container.
Each container is outfitted with a bed, chair, wardrobe and mini fridge, and all 30 residents will share washroom and storage facilities and planter boxes for growing vegetables.
|Each tiny home includes a bed, chair, wardrobe and fridge. Residents will also share washroom facilities, office and common space, storage and planter boxes. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)|
“It’s purpose built, and it’s purpose built with love,” Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Our Place Society, said. “Often we’re taking over older buildings or buildings with gymnasiums, so when people walk in it doesn’t feel like a home, whereas this feels like a home immediately.”
Our Place is in charge of running the village over the next 18 months and will be coordinating supports and twice daily meals for residents.
Asked about possible concerns from surrounding neighbours, Mayor Lisa Helps said the city thinks they’ve done it right this time. The motels, where many public concerns have sprouted from, were purchased for a crisis at crisis speed, Helps said. Whereas, the Tiny Home Village and sheltering space at 225 Russell St. – which will house a maximum of 60 people – have been well thought out.
“We know from best practice that smaller sites work better,” Helps said. “That makes all the difference in terms of impact to neighbours.”
There will be challenges, she acknowledged, but said the supports are in place to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.
On May 1, the city’s daytime park camping prohibition comes back in effect and those tenting in parks will have to pack up between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
“The parks are meant to be the backyards and green spaces for all city residents and if people are living in them that makes that very challenging,” Helps said.
But, there will be some leeway for those who have accepted indoor shelter spaces and need some time to move their possessions.
Helps expressed that she knows uprooting and downsizing possessions will be hard, but she hopes campers decide it’s worth it to get one step closer to permanent housing.
“It’s difficult to leave some of the stuff that’s been your comfort in the parks, but if you’re moving inside you’re going to get new stuff – a bed and a place to lay your head, and a place to have a shower, and some room for storage that’s not outside in the rain,” she said.
The 30 residents are set to start moving in on May 12 and are expected to stay until September 2022. At that point, six new permanent supportive housing sites should have been built in the region.
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