The Town of Qualicum Beach has submitted a grant application to the provincial government to secure $1.25 million in special funding to develop up to 15 temporary dry recovery housing units for people facing homelessness.
The proposed project will act as transitional housing to support people coming out of homelessness and moving into permanent housing.
“When a person facing homelessness can live in supportive housing, they have a warm, safe place to sleep, access to the basic necessities of life, such as food, showers and laundry and can participate in treatment to help address mental health and addiction challenges,” reads a media release from the town.
The town said there was not enough time to have a community dialogue before taking advantage of the grant opportunity. It will host a virtual information session, through a committee of the whole meeting, tentatively set for 4 p.m. on April 29.
If approved by the province, the project will be placed on the western half of 987 Jones Street in Qualicum Beach. Construction is expected to begin within six weeks of approval and the town said it aims to have tenants move in before the end of the year.
It would be the only dry transitional housing project in the area, according to the town. It will let service providers work collectively to help vulnerable members of the population move out of homelessness, address health and addiction challenges and eventually move into permanent housing.
“The proposed project will be overseen by the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, with Forward House managing operations, as they are experienced in overseeing supportive housing for adults living with mental health and addiction recovery challenges,” the release said.
The site will have 24-hour security personnel with training in mental health and addictions, including one staff member overnight and two staff members during the day, according to the town.
“Holistic wrap-around services will provide a collaborative approach to help tenants stabilize, recover and move into permanent housing. Wrap-around services have shown to increase the likelihood of remaining housed, long-term,” the release said.
The town said the site was selected because it is close to all services and will allow the town to connect the units to electrical, water and sewer. Council previously considered a location near the Qualicum Beach airport, but that site did not receive early endorsement from the province due to its distance from services and lack of access to transportation options. The temporary buildings will not require a foundation and will be placed on gravel and pilings, making it easy for the units to be relocated in the future.
The site will require the removal of trees and the altering of some trail segments, but the town said all town-owned properties would require the same treatment. It is the only site that could offer proximity to core services, while being over one quarter of a kilometre away from densely populated residential areas.
The site will require rezoning to allow for the temporary use which will be managed through the issuance of a temporary use permit.
The grant funding will cover the cost of the site-preparations, buildings and site operation for nine months. After that time, if the project proves to be successful, the town said it will explore permanent locations and provincial funding options to continue offering supportive housing to vulnerable people in the community. The identification of a possible permanent location will be accomplished through a phased community outreach process to be publicly discussed and approved by council in a public meeting.
Residents and interested stakeholders are invited to register and attend the virtual information session to learn more about the project and to ask specific questions.