MOU between province and Victoria brings 30-unit temporary homes for the unhoused

By Alexandra Mehl

Victoria, BC - Victoria will see the addition of 30 temporary housing units for those who have been staying in shelters long term. This interim housing is the first action of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the city and province to provide housing and services with aims to reduce homelessness.

“Housing is a critical issue across the whole province, there's no question,” said Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill, in an interview with Ha-Shilth-Sa. “Certainly, here in Victoria the need for housing, really across the housing continuum, is really acute.”

In mid-February, the City of Victoria and the province announced the opening of Caledonia Place, formerly known as Tiny Town, located on 940 Caledonia Avenue. The reopening of the 30-unit facility will transition those who have been staying in shelters long term to interim units while opening up beds at nightly shelters, reads a joint press release.

“When vulnerable people have safe housing with supports such as health care and skills training, they can start to rebuild their lives, supporting healthy and safe communities for everyone," said Lore in the press release.

Operated by Our Place Society, Lore shared with Ha-Shilth-Sa that they are expecting the housing to be running within weeks.

“These aren't permanent homes,” said Lore, “but they are homes for people while those additional supportive housing and purpose-built rentals get built.”

The implementation of Caledonia Place follows the opening of 30 beds at St. John Divine Church extreme-weather response shelter on Quadra Street, operated by SOLID outreach society.

“Together, these 60 temporary spaces will increase the housing and shelter options available to people experiencing homelessness in the community, while the province, through BC Housing, works to bring other temporary housing and permanent supportive housing to Victoria,” reads the press release.

Throughout Greater Victoria there are currently 380 overnight shelter spaces available, the press release reads. But according to 2023’s Point-In-Time count, the city’s unhoused community amounts to a minimum of 1,665 people.

The MOU was formalized to coordinate rapid support, through BC Housing’s Homeless Encampment Action Response Teams (HEART) and the Homeless Encampment Action Response Temporary Housing (HEARTH) programs.

"With this MOU, we can rely on the province to take advantage of opportunities and undertake innovative actions - partners in a comprehensive strategy to provide rapid access to the supports and services needed to help unhoused people find a home,” said Marianne Alto, mayor of Victoria, in the press release.

“Collaboration and cooperation is essential,” said Lore. “We're only going to meet the needs of our community, of our neighbors, by working together.”

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In late January Pandora Avenue was lined with encampments, as Our Place Society offers help to the unhoused on the street. (Eric Plummer photo)

Alexandra Mehl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa