The Cowichan Valley has been struggling with homelessness. (File photo)

The Cowichan Valley has been struggling with homelessness. (File photo)

Federal homeless funding heading to Cowichan

Funding of $291,450 in 2020-21 and $463,953 per year until 2023-2024

The federal government announced Thursday morning that they will be providing significant funding to address homelessness in the Cowichan Valley until 2024.

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” Employment and Social Development Canada said in a press release. “The COVID-19 pandemic in Canada is having real, tangible public health and safety impacts on all Canadians. It is necessary to ensure that the homeless-serving sector has all the tools and interventions they need to prepare, prevent and manage this disease.”

To that end, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, minister for Families, Children and Social Development, announced that the Government of Canada designated Cowichan Valley as one of the six new communities selected to receive funding of $291,450 in 2020-21 and $463,953 per year until 2023-2024 to prevent and reduce homelessness under the Designated Communities stream of Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.

“Local communities play a big role in helping Canadians experiencing homelessness,” siad Hussen. “We are proud to include Cowichan Valley as a Designated Community under Reaching Home so that they can better serve vulnerable groups, while we work together to reduce chronic homelessness in Canada.”

“The announcement great news. This is the kind of help we’ve been asking for from senior governments for over a year now, and it’s good to see the federal government stepping up with this funding,” said North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. “We are, of course, still awaiting more provincial dollars, both in the context of helping out on this file during the COVID situation, and also more broadly as we seek to build an integrated strategy around this issue; a strategy that will provide not just ‘housing’, but also the necessary wrap around services (addictions counseling, life skills coaching, etc), that we’ve been pushing for.

“I am hopeful, though, that now that the federal government has recognized and acted upon our needs, that this will prompt some additional funding from Victoria.”

Reaching Home provides long-term stable funding to communities that face challenges with homelessness. Funding is provided to a single body, that distributes funding to support local priorities identified in the community’s homelessness plan.

Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples said the designation will allow Cowichan to implement responses to current COVID-19 related priorities, and the multi-year support allows the region to support local priorities that will develop and provide longer term, more permanent solutions.

In Spring 2019, the Department launched a two-step application process to identify new Designated Communities. To select new communities, the Department considered their demonstrated need for homelessness funding as well as their capacity to effectively manage federal investments and improve their local chronic homelessness by 50 per cent by fiscal year 2027-2028.