A Campbell River group is applauding the purchase of the former Rose Bowl restaurant for bridge housing.
The Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness (the Coalition) called the move “an integral step in addressing homelessness in our community.”
The province, through BC Housing, bought the restaurant at 1221 Cedar St. and plans to immediately create a space for 20 beds.
Coalition coordinator, Kristi Schwanicke said the purchase addresses the community’s most vulnerable population, especially in the age of COVID-19.
“This is such a significant purchase in Campbell River, to really support people who are experiencing homelessness as a bridge to housing, for further initiatives to come,” Schwanicke said. “This is a great response to homelessness during the pandemic, where housing is really a primary way to keep people safe.”
The bridge housing will provide people with a bed, showers and meals, as well as many of the support services found in permanent supportive housing.
Vancouver Island Mental Health Society (VIMHS) will oversee day-to-day management of the facility. Society staff will be on-site 24/7 and will provide guests with outreach services, as well as connections and referral to health services.
The society currently operates 64 housing units with an additional 23 units in construction across Vancouver Island.
VIMHS executive director, Taryn O’Flanagan, notes, “We are looking forward to providing this response to homelessness in Campbell River. As a coalition member, we are aware of the housing crisis in Campbell River and are pleased to provide housing and additional resources to our vulnerable population who are further marginalized during this pandemic.”
This project will not impact all unhoused people in our community, however.
The coalition points out that it’s only one-quarter of the 81 people counted in the most recent provincial Point in Time Count, however, they say it’s a “necessary next step in creating dignified options for people experiencing homelessness in our community.”
The upcoming 2020 PiT count is postponed due to the pandemic but anecdotally, the number of people unhoused is now upwards of 100.
This is reported by Coalition Member organizations including Sasamans Society and the John Howard Society of North Island which provide housing outreach in our community.
Builds addressing homelessness in Campbell River include:
- the 40 to 50 units of supportive housing for Campbell River’s vulnerable population;
- 49 units of second stage and affordable housing for women and their families and senior women provided by Coalition Member organization, the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society; and
- the Campbell River Head Injury Support Society’s recent build of Linda’s Place provides 27 further affordable housing units.
Schwanicke said supportive and affordable housing is desperately needed in Campbell River, given vacancy rates of 0.4 per cent and increasing market rental rates.
“We know these housing resources will not address the homeless population in its entirety but will have significant positive impacts on our community and the people who will have access to these homes,” she added.
“The Coalition looks forward to continuing to advocate for increased access to affordable housing, diversity and intensification of housing stock and supporting our Member organizations in providing housing along the continuum.”
The Coalition says it continues to support the community’s most vulnerable through monthly meetings, and supporting Riverside Village (formerly Heritage River Inn), a 41 unit housing response by BC Housing for displaced tenants of the Pacific Heights apartment fire in April.
More information on the Coalition is available at crhousing.net.