CRD Board Approves Regional Housing First Implementation Plan

The Capital Regional District (CRD) Board today approved the Regional Housing First Program (RHFP) Implementation Plan that will create at least 268 supported and affordable housing units at provincial shelter rates and at least 175 housing units affordable to low and moderate income households in the region.

The RHFP Implementation Plan will initiate proposal calls to develop and acquire affordable housing units in mixed-market projects that address the needs of both people experiencing chronic homelessness and low to moderate households in the region.

“I am very pleased to see progress on this much needed service in our region,” said CRD Board Chair Barbara Desjardins. “Through collaboration we can provide solutions to individual and community needs for housing, financial and health support services.”

The plan includes a six-year phased project approval and development process and outlines the steps to utilizing approved funding. The CRD and BC Housing will provide capital funding for an equal number of units with anticipated completions to take place over three years starting in 2019.

“This is an important step toward making sure people in the community who are homeless have access to the housing and support services they need to address their challenges and rebuild their lives.” said Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing. “As a next step, we will soon be inviting municipalities, non-profit societies and other community groups to partner with us on innovative housing projects that create affordable housing for individuals living in the CRD.”

“I’m thrilled to see the region and our key funding partners, BC Housing and Island Health coming together to provide this much-needed housing,” said Coalition Co-Chair Lisa Helps. “It’s been a real community effort to get to this stage. Plan implementation will require an equal level of commitment and support from all partners; I’m confident that together we can work towards a region without homelessness.”

In December 2015, the CRD Board approved borrowing up to $30 million to create the RHFP through which the CRD will contribute to the capital costs associated with building affordable housing to be used to address the needs of people experiencing chronic homelessness in the region. In May 2016, the CRD entered into a Partnering Agreement with the BC Housing Management Commission (BCHMC) and Vancouver Island Health Authority (Island Health) through which the Province has committed to contribute a matching $30 million to the RHFP.

Island Health has agreed to align its existing mental health and substance services with new affordable housing opportunities developed through the RHFP. The CRD Board further directed staff to develop a plan to support the implementation of the RHFP.

The Program will follow a three step project approval process beginning in September 2016 and repeating over a three-year period.