Safe at Home launches 100 Homes Campaign in Whitehorse

·2 min read

A new campaign is underway to match Whitehorse residents in need of safe, reliable housing with landlords trying to fill their rental properties.

The 100 Homes Campaign, which is being led by local non-profit Safe at Home in collaboration with the Canadian Medical Association Foundation, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the City of Whitehorse, was officially launched on Dec. 17.

It aims to house 100 people by March 31, with a longer-term goal of creating a pool of 100 housing units set aside for vulnerable people.

The campaign is being funded by a $46,000 grant from the city, which itself had received a pool of funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Engagement specialist to be hired

Safe at Home executive director Kate Mechan told CBC the March 31 deadline was chosen, in part, to raise awareness about the urgent need to address the issue of homelessness in Whitehorse, particularly during a pandemic.

"Housing is a solution to homelessness," she said. "It's also a defence against COVID[-19], and you can't isolate and you can't keep yourself and your family safe if you don't have a roof over your head."

While various community groups have been working to find housing for vulnerable people for years, Mechan said the funding that comes with the 100 Homes Campaign meant Safe at Home could hire an "engagement specialist" to reach out to landlords about the initiative.

The campaign is offering assistance with ensuring a smooth move-in as well as access to a damage mitigation fund, rent supplements if required, and a "network of service providers" who can help tenants with things like life-skills training or mental health support.

Mechan said the campaign is interested in rental properties of any sort, from multi-bedroom homes for families to bachelor apartments for elders living alone. Tenants will be picked from a voluntary by-name list Safe at Home maintains, which currently has about 113 people on it, or from lists maintained by other service providers in the community.

No landlord had signed onto the campaign as of Dec. 23, but Mechan said it was still early in the outreach process.

While the focus right now is on landlords, Mechan said she hopes to offer more ways for people who don't own property to contribute to the initiative in the new year — for example, opportunities to donate items like dishware, bedding or furniture.

"We really have an opportunity to create more safety and well-being in our communities," she said.

"... In the long-term, once we've bounced back from COVID[-19] and tourism returns, I think we will be able to show what an amazing community we are — that we've come together and rallied around our most vulnerable, and we're addressing homelessness and we're taking it head on."

More information about the campaign is available online at the100homescampaign.com.