NEWS RELEASE · 31st March 2010
Ministry of Housing
The Province's Homelessness Intervention Project has exceeded targets to house homeless people and provide them with support services, announced Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing and Social Development. Since it was launched a year ago, the project has housed over 2,400 formerly homeless people in five B.C. communities, including 204 in Prince George and 159 in Kelowna.
"We have surpassed our original target of housing 2,000 people in 18 months by creating strong, collaborative relationships between government and communities," said Coleman. "We will continue to build on the project's success to move more people in to housing and quickly connect them to the support services they need. Our goal is to help them stay housed, which is essential to reducing chronic homelessness over the long term."
The Homelessness Intervention Project was established in March 2009 to help reduce chronic homelessness in Victoria, Vancouver, Surrey, Prince George and Kelowna. The project provides homeless people who have severe mental illness and/or addictions with priority access to housing, health services, addictions treatment and income assistance.
"There is a strong correlation between homelessness and mental health and addiction issues," said Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon. "This project gives homeless people improved access to essential health and social services as well as housing, all key factors in helping them become healthy, independent and safe."
"The Province's Homelessness Intervention Project has been instrumental to our community by reducing chronic homelessness in Prince George," said Mayor Dan Rogers. "We are very appreciative of the relationship developed with the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, and we will continue to make strides to put an end to homelessness in our community."
"Bringing different levels of government and social agencies together proved essential to address our community's assisted living priorities," said Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd. "These partnerships provide the resources that let us deliver specific housing requirements to support our homeless population."
The Homelessness Intervention Project will build on its success over the next year by working with other vulnerable homeless people including youth, children and families, people with brain injuries and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Aboriginal people. The Province will continue to track the number of people who are housed and who remain in housing to ensure the project is effectively supporting homeless people in the five communities.
The Homelessness Intervention Project aligns services through several provincial ministries, crown agencies, community groups and non-profit organizations. The project provides priority access to a wide range of support services that are based on the needs of each individual.
In 2009-10, the Ministry of Health Services will spend approximately $1.2 billion on mental health and addictions - an increase of more than 42 per cent since 2000-2001. The ministry has also increased the number of community mental health beds and units by 64 per cent since 2001, and the number of community substance use beds and units by more than 200 per cent since 2003.
In addition, the Province has committed to creating more than 4,000 new housing units under the Provincial Homelessness Initiative. For 2010-11, the budget for affordable housing and shelter is approximately $560 million, more than four times as much as in 2001.
About 8,000 formerly homeless people have been placed in housing in 49 communities, including the 2,400 through the Homelessness Intervention Project, since the Province launched homeless outreach services in 2006.