John Horn is leaving his position as the executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association.
Horn, who has been in the position for more than two years, has been chosen to become the new executive director of the John Howard Society: Nanaimo Region.
He said the John Howard Society approached him when the position became open, and he decided to take the job for a number of reasons, including the fact that he lives in Nanaimo.
Horn has been integral to the many projects and initiatives to help deal with homeless issues in the Cowichan Valley in his short time at the CHA, including the setting up and maintenance of the temporary cabin sites for the homeless in the area, and helped BC Housing in its decision to establish approximately 100 supportive housing units for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness in the Valley at two sites — 2983 Drinkwater Rd. in North Cowichan and 260 White Rd. in Duncan — that will soon be under construction.
Horn said further funding for BC Housing for the cabin sites on St. Julien Street in Duncan and on Government Street, known as “The Mound”, which is owned by Cowichan Tribes, is in the final stages of being secured and will allow the sites to continue to operate until March, 2022.
He said the hope is that the cabin sites will stay in place until the supportive housing units are in place, and beyond if they are still needed.
BC Housing has acquired two sites to develop the supportive housing units in what the agency describes as “safe, secure housing with wraparound supports.”
Horn said that, with his departure from the CHA on April 30, the association will continue to work diligently on these and other initiatives, and he also has great faith in the abilities of the non-profit Lookout Housing and Health Society to work effectively on behalf of the region’s homeless.
The society, which was chosen by Island Health last year to run the controversial Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Rd. when it opens, will also operate the approximately 50 supportive housing units on Drinkwater Road when it begins operations sometime next fall or winter.
The other site on White Road is further behind in planning, and an operator has yet to be chosen.
Horn said discussions are underway that would also see the society take over the running of the cabin sites.
“The Lookout Housing and Health Society is a big entity with more than 1,100 staff which has specialized in dealing with homeless issues for many years,” he said.
“They are fabulous providers and I feel they are very competent partners to be working with.”