Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy is a community-based program aimed at reducing and preventing homelessness. Officially launched April 1, 2019, the Government of Canada's homelessness program supports the most vulnerable people in the Capital Region by improving access to safe, stable and affordable housing. Employment and Social Development Canada has awarded Reaching Home funding to the CRD as the Community Entity to administer Reaching Home in the Greater Victoria community.

Reaching Home Program 2019-2024

From 2019-2024, the CRD is administering a five-year agreement under the Designated Communities Program for $6.7 million, and a three-year agreement under the Indigenous Homelessness Program for approximately $2.3 million. Both programs will continue to fund services that support the needs of those experiencing homelessness in the region.

Funding for the five-year Designated Communities funding stream is being allocated to initiatives that address outcomes identified in the 2019-2024 Community Plan To End Homelessness, and are recommended by the Reaching Home Community Advisory Board (CAB). In January 2021, the Capital Regional District formed a new CAB to make recommendations towards the use of Designated Communities funding. Allocations have been determined under the Designated Communities Program for 2020-22. Currently funded organizations can also allocate their funding to address COVID-19 response requirements if needed.

Funding for the Indigenous Homelessness Program is currently supporting the delivery of holistic and culturally-appropriate responses to the unique needs of Indigenous People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Government of Canada is consulting with Indigenous stakeholders to determine the governance and administration to support the future delivery of this program. While this is underway, and to ensure continuation of this funding, the Government of Canada extended its agreement with the CRD to support the CRD remaining as the administrator of this funding for the year 2021-22.  Allocations have been determined under the Indigenous Homelessness Program for 2021-22 and future recommendations will be made by the Indigenous CAB which convened for the first time in May.

Reaching Home COVID-19 Emergency Response Program

In March 2020, the Government of Canada announced $1,312,852 in Reaching Home COVID-19 Emergency Response funding to be administered by the CRD. This funding was focused on temporarily supporting people at risk of or experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. On October 10, 2020, the Government of Canada allocated an additional $1,918,197 of Reaching Home COVID-19 funding, for a total of $3,231,049. Of this total, $2,261,734 is allocated to the Designated Communities funding stream and $969,315 to the Indigenous Homelessness funding stream. 

The CRD was administering this funding based on the COVID-19 Funding Strategy approved by the Reaching Home Community Advisory Board (CAB) and reported to the CAB on the use of this funding. The CRD was allocated this funding in accordance with provincial frameworks and guidelines. The CRD also consulted with the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, as well as local charitable funding agents to identify gaps and opportunities.

As of August 31, 2021 all Reaching Home COVID-19 Emergency Response funding had been allocated.

Main Reaching Home Funded Programs: 2020-22

Beacon Community Associaton - Homelessness Prevention Fund

Beacon Community Association is receiving Designated Communities Funding to provide one-time emergency assistance subsidies for individuals and families who are in financial threat of losing their housing. These subsidies are available monthly and can be used for rent, utilities and security deposit. Although the applicant is not required to pay back the subsidy, they are required to demonstrate an understanding of their obligations to their tenancy and present a plan that outlines their ability to meet their financial requirements to maintain their housing.

Pacifica Housing - Streets to Homes

This project funds housing outreach workers who are working with clients with a history of chronic or episodic homelessness to locate market housing, support them in their housing, and re-house them if necessary. BC Housing provides rent supplements for these clients to make the rent more affordable. The Streets to Homes project is a collaborative community initiative designed to address homelessness in the community. It has a large network of housing resources and landlords, and provides supports by community referrals. This project is connected to other housing providers in the community and coordinates referrals to their program through shelters and drop in centers, along with many other portals.

Peers Victoria Resources - Housing Outreach and Support

Peers provides housing and case management services to people in or from the sex industry who are chronically or episodically homeless. Housing outreach and support workers are providing assistance in locating rental housing, help with moving and storage, administration of rent supplements, support to secure income assistance and to apply for housing, and services that help with life skills and financial assistance through connections with Provincial ministries. The housing support worker liaises with shelter and other housing support providers in the region to co-serve clients looking for housing and to share related costs. Peers provides an innovative complement to the existing housing and shelter supports with a unique target population of current and former sex workers. Their service model is harm reduction oriented and based on peer leadership.

Threshold Housing - Youth Homelessness Prevention & Housing Stabilitization

Threshold Housing is funded to provide staff and support services for a wrap-around youth transitional housing program. Activities target at-risk youth ages 16-24. As youth become more stable, they graduate to more independent living situations. Threshold helps at risk youth build self-reliance by providing transitional housing, life skills supports, referrals to outside agencies, preparation for tenancy, financial literacy, cooking classes, social activities, pre-employment support, housing loss prevention, and school completion as required.

Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness - Advocacy & System Improvements

The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) is receiving Indigenous Homelessness funding to provide an Indigenous Street Community Advocate as an integral bridge between the Indigenous Street Community and the local housing providers and services. Personalized plans, case management, advocacy, referrals, land based healing opportunities and outreach will help to identify and implement culturally-appropriate services for this community.

Victoria Cool Aid Society

The Victoria Cool Aid Society is being funded from April 1, 2021 - March 31, 2024 for a Client Service Worker to support clients who are ready to move from supportive housing into more independent, affordable rental housing in the CRD. The Client Support Worker will provide supports to people as they move into more independent affordable housing. This will free up supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness in the community.

Victoria Cool Aid Society - Indigenous Tenant and Cultural Supports

The Victoria Cool Aid Society is providing housing and cultural supports to Indigenous people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The program funds an Indigenous Client Services worker and Elders, along with a rich variety of cultural activities, life skills education and support, contact with Elders, and supports to connect with clinical services.

Victoria Native Friendship Centre - Siem Lelum/Fernwood House

The Victoria Native Friendship Center receives Indigenous Homelessness funding for the Siem Lelum/Fernwood House Program which funds Tenant Support Workers to support clients in 49 units of supportive housing. VNFC operates supportive housing for Indigenous clients and assists them to find a more permanent place to live once they are ready. The Tenant Support Workers provide culturally appropriate life skills coaching and programs for Indigenous clients and families who are at risk of homelessness, to attain and maintain safe, healthy, affordable long-term housing. Clients are offered referrals to community supports, life skills education and support, culturally appropriate activities to nurture cultural connections, financial literacy workshops, education support and tenancy support to prevent housing loss.

Our Place Society - Aboriginal Housing Advocates

Our Place Society receives Indigenous Homelessness Funding to provide an Aboriginal Housing Advocate to find housing for homeless Indigenous clients and support them in their housing. The Aboriginal Housing Advocate also helps Indigenous clients with pre-employment support, support to access education programs and to engage them in cultural activities. This project provides an important link to the Indigenous homeless community in downtown Victoria. The focus on providing a safe space and cultural activities promotes trust and allows the Aboriginal Advocate to provide housing for Indigenous clients who might not otherwise come forward. Our Place refers clients to other organizations for housing, such as Pacifica Housing and Victoria Native Friendship Centre.