A transitional housing model developed in Duncan has gained the support of other communities in the province at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver.
Delegates at the UBCM meeting voted in favour of a resolution calling on the BC Government to include the The Village Model under BC Housing “as part of the supportive housing continuum and provide a mechanism for this model to received continued funding from BC Housing.”
Cowichan Housing Association CEO Shelly Cook says it’s rewarding to “see the recognition that’s based on all the demonstrated success of this project and the potential benefits it can offer, not just simply to the people who reside there, but the surrounding community, as well.”
Cook says it has been a “long, difficult road, certainly a very worthwhile road,” and says there are different ways The Village model fits in with BC Housing’s plan to connect people with shelter with the resources necessary to help them move on with their lives.
“It really naturally fits in,” according to Cook, “with what already is being planned around decampment responses through the Heart and Hearth funding from the provincial government.”
She says The Village is an important resource for helping people transition from the street and to the important next steps in their lives, including going into supportive housing and then moving into the private rental market.
Cook says it has demonstrated that people have “long term successes at sites like this,” and make gains over time, which meansThe Village is valuable as a permanent part of the housing continuum.
As for the how the government responds to the UBCM resolution, Cook hopes the value demonstrated by The Village will be seen as a really viable solution in line with existing needs and existing operational strategies.
“My hope,” says Cook, “is certainly that the province recognizes it’s utility and really tries to harness its innovation that’s obviously been generated by community.”
Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples is pleased with the support of the UBCM delegates, and is grateful for the contributions of local partners since the idea launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staples says The Village has been a real community effort, involving Cowichan Tribes, Municipality of North Cowichan, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Housing Association, RCMP, Island Health, Lookout Housing, the House of Friendship, and other community members.
She says UBCM delegates realized this model should be part of the continuum of housing, not only in Duncan but in municipalities all over British Columbia.
Staples says The Village provides a place for those who are “street entrenched” and might not be successful if they were place directly in supportive housing units.
She says they have witnessed “incredible successes” for residents, and attributes this to community collaboration and a willingness to work through a lot of obstacles, learn from mistakes, and not to throw everything away when something happens, but instead look at how to keep improving it.
“We have to do a lot to move forward to a place where people have housing and stable housing and we’re happy to be one community that found a way, that for a certain population, is proving to be very effective.”
The current location of the village opened in March of 2022, providing accommodation to 34 people and connecting them with resources needed to help improve their lives.