The Regional Housing First Program will invest up to $120 million toward projects that meet a variety of housing needs. The program model includes 20% of all units having rent levels set at the Government of BC’s Income Assistance Rate Table Shelter Maximum (Shelter Rate) and the remaining 80% of units being Affordable Rental Units. 

The provincial income assistance units will be offered to individuals who are experiencing homelessness and are ready to live independently with ongoing supports. The rent for these units will be set at the provincial income assistance rate ($375 per month).

The program aims to achieve a target of up to 2,000 Affordable Rental Units, with up to 400 of those units having rents set at Shelter Rate. Overall, the program is expected to leverage the development of approximately $600M in capital development.

This model avoids the need for dedicated support programs in specific locations. Instead, Island Health will deliver flexible, mobile services based on the individual needs of people living in the housing units. This approach helps empower individuals, reduce stigmatization and creates more options for individuals seeking supported housing. 

BC Housing, Island Health and the Capital Regional District (CRD) are also working with community partners to create a more efficient and effectively coordinated assessment and access system to address homelessness in the region. Improved flow of clients through the overall system will in turn support more stable housing outcomes.

To meet its targets, the Regional Housing First Program is using three approaches:

Request for Proposals

The program’s Request for Proposals (RFP) process provides non-profit and private developers the opportunity to propose viable projects that meet the program criteria.

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 of those units, which frees up funds that can go toward operating costs only. Proponents will also be able to access low-interest construction financing via BC Housing or Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). 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 the 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 Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC).