The CRD aims to eliminate chronic homelessness in southern Vancouver Island through mixed-market housing, partnerships and streamlined support services. The Regional Housing First Program (RHFP) meets a broad range of housing needs while moving at-risk individuals from streets or shelters into long-term, tenant-based, supported housing to enable recovery and integration into society. It is anticipated to create more than 2000 new rental units, worth approximately $400 million.

The Implementation Plan, approved in September 2016, provides a planned approach to support the development of 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.

Background

In 2016 the Capital Regional District (CRD) committed up to $30 million to establish the RHFP and help meet the needs of chronically homeless individuals. The Province of BC and Government of Canada have awarded matching funds, bringing the total investment to $90 million. Island Health has also agreed to participate by providing health supports to tenants as required.

The Regional Housing First Strategy Overview (PDF) provides information on the RHFP strategy developed by community stakeholders in June 2017. This included a RHFP Logic Model,(PDF) a higher level Collaborative Outcomes Map (PDF) and more detailed Capacity Map (PDF) to support RHFP implementation and ongoing systems performance.

Currently, two projects have received provisional project approval:

Island Women Against Violence have proposed the development of 50 new affordable housing units at its Croftonbrook site on Salt Spring Island. Of these units, 18 will be provided at shelter rates to provide housing to individuals who can live independently with supports.

Cool Aid Society has proposed the redevelopment of a 21 unit supportive housing project, Cedar Grove, at 210 Gorge Road East in Victoria. The 82 unit project will include 50 affordable rental units and 32 units that will be provided at shelter rates to provide housing to individuals who can live independently with supports.

An expression of interest was released in January 2018 and proposals are currently under review.

How It Works

BC Housing, Island Health and the CRD are working with community partners to create a more efficient and effectively coordinated assessment and access system to address homelessness in the region. The Regional Housing First Program model avoids the need for dedicated support programs in specific locations. Instead, flexible, mobile services will be delivered within the housing units located throughout the region.

This approach helps empower individuals, reduce stigmatization and creates more options for individuals seeking supported housing. Greater efficiencies will also increase the flow of clients through the overall system and thereby support more stable housing outcomes.

Projects built throughout the region will create mixed income communities with that include units where individuals may require supports. The mix of rent levels is designed to meet a variety of housing needs. The formula is: 20% shelter rate, 31% affordable rate and 49% near market or market rate.

New, self-contained “shelter rate” units will be provided to individuals who are experiencing homelessness and are ready to live independently with ongoing supports. These individuals will be reliant on provincial income assistance, which pays a fixed shelter amount (currently set at $375 per month). Therefore the operator will collect the shelter allowance amount for these units.

Expression of Interest

The program’s Expression of Interest process provides non-profit and private developers the opportunity to propose viable projects that meet the criteria of the RHFP.

CRD and BC Housing will purchase housing units to secure their respective long-term investments. Placement of tenants will be managed through a partner-led, coordinated assessment and access system.

By purchasing units up-front, the CRD and BC Housing will reduce the proponents’ need for debt financing, which frees up funds that can go toward operating costs. Proponents will also be able to access low-interest construction financing via BC Housing. Revenue from all units will cover the operating and maintenance costs.

Partnerships and In-house Development

In order to provide opportunities for development partnerships or to allow for the direct development and construction of projects, BC Housing and CRD are pursuing land opportunities. The criteria for assessing land acquisitions includes whether or not the property is zoned for multi-family housing, within 1km of transit, and close to services.

Purchasing Developments or Units Directly

BC Housing and the CRD will also work with developers to negotiate the purchase of developments or units ready for or under construction to be owned and operated by the CRD and CRHC.