March 17, 2022
Victoria — British Columbians experiencing or at-risk of homelessness will benefit from expanded services, supports, and more timely access to care, thanks to new investments in Budget 2022.
Homelessness is a significant issue affecting people and communities throughout B.C. In response, the Government of B.C. is investing $633 million in new initiatives aimed at helping prevent and reduce chronic homelessness in the province.
- $35 million over three years for new and increased supports for young people in government care until the age of 27, including a new financial supplement, a no-limit earnings exemption, help with the cost of housing, improved access to transition workers, enhanced life skills and mental-health programs, and better medical benefits.
- $600-per-month rent supplements with integrated health and social supports that will help more than 3,000 people with low incomes access housing in the private market over the next three years.
- More than doubling the current number of community integration specialists to help people experiencing homelessness navigate government programs and available supports in communities throughout the province.
- $164 million over three years to expand government’s complex-care housing program, to help B.C.’s most vulnerable people with complex health, mental health and substance-use challenges who may need a level of support that goes beyond what the current model of supportive housing can provide.
- $264 million over three years for a permanent housing plan to ensure the approximately 3,000 people who were temporarily housed during the COVID-19 pandemic do not return to homelessness.
Implementation of these initiatives will begin this year.
“The staff and youth at A Way Home Kamloops are relieved to hear about the increases in funding and support coming. We are very heartened that the relevant ministries are coming together to solve issues and address gaps for some of the most under-served members of our communities,” said Tangie Genshorek, executive director, A Way Home Kamloops. “Youth who are transitioning out of government care are particularly vulnerable, and we are grateful that our calls to action are being heard. We would also like to congratulate those who have worked very hard to make these significant changes in Budget 2022 happen. Thank you for listening, thank you for caring.”
The new funding builds on the Province’s response to homelessness and its major investments in housing, health and social supports during the pandemic, including thousands of additional shelter spaces, temporary self-isolation spaces and new supportive housing.
“These investments are a good start towards a comprehensive strategy, with more needed to address the root causes of homelessness,” said Stephen D’Souza, executive director, Homelessness Services Association of BC. “The recent point-in-time count identified that 38% of those experiencing homelessness in B.C. are unsheltered, either living outside, couch-surfing or in a vehicle. This cross-government approach can be transformative, moving B.C. in the direction of realizing the right to housing and ensuring people have access to the necessary supports to stay housed.”
These investments are part of government’s broader provincial homelessness strategy, which will be released in 2022.
Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction –
“We’re more than doubling the number of community integration specialists to better help people access the services they need. As well, we’re introducing a change to our shelter allowance to provide a new minimum base rate and will be funding tenant startup kits to assist people moving from homelessness into more stable housing.”
Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development –
“Just as most parents continue supporting their children after they reach age 19, young people from care also need supports to help them thrive as they transition into adulthood. We are working across government to ensure that youth have what they need to be successful when they are ready to be independent. The new investments under Budget 2022 will provide much-needed financial, housing, education and social supports to ensure young people from care – who are disproportionately represented in the homeless population – get the help they need.”
Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions –
“Complex-care housing is a groundbreaking approach to address the needs of people who have overlapping mental-health challenges, substance-use issues, trauma and acquired brain injuries, who are often left homeless or risking eviction. People who access complex -care housing get supports where they live, including services from nurses, peer workers, social workers, and other health professionals. With Budget 2022’s investment of $164 million, our government is expanding complex care housing across the province.”
To learn more about how government is compiling and analyzing data on homelessness, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022AG0035-000364.
For more information on Budget 2022, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022FIN0005-000251
To learn more about the Province’s complex-care strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022MMHA0005-000083
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.
New supports, services for people experiencing homelessness
Budget 2022 investments to address homelessness include the following actions:
- $164 million over three years to expand government’s complex-care housing model from four pilot sites to at least 20 sites, with plans to support up to 500 people.
- These spaces will help people with severe mental health, substance-use issues or traumatic and acquired brain injuries who are currently homeless or unstably housed.
Supported Rent Supplement Program:
- Introducing $600-per-month rent supplements with integrated supports, such as health care, food services, laundry, life skills and employment training, to help people with low incomes access private market housing.
- The program aims to support 3,000 people by 2024-25.
Community integration specialists:
- Reallocating $62.8 million to more than double the current number of community integration specialists in B.C., from 73 to 190 to help people experiencing homelessness navigate services where they live and co-ordinate other supports.
- They will be hired throughout the province, including in communities hosting the new complex-care housing sites.
Supports for youth in care:
- $35 million over three years for improved supports for youth and young adults in and from care, until age 27, who are at risk of homelessness. These include:
- maintaining the current COVID-19 temporary emergency housing measures up to a young adult’s 21st birthday, allowing them to stay where they are living or transition to independence when they are ready;
- providing new $600-per-month rent supplements;
- expanding the Agreements with Young Adults program to include counselling, medical benefits and more life-skills programming;
- improving income supports, including a no-limit earnings exemption; and
- hiring new youth transition support workers who will assist youth in care from age 14 until their 27th birthday.
Permanent Housing Plan:
- $264 million over three years to ensure housing support continues for the approximately 3,000 people who were temporarily housed in leased or purchased hotels and other spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- $63 million in capital funding and $51 million in operating funding over three years to acquire and implement permanent housing solutions.
- $150 million to continue to extend the temporary spaces for some individuals while permanent housing options become available.
New minimum shelter rate:
- A new minimum shelter allowance for people receiving income assistance or disability assistance will help people experiencing homelessness with incidental expenses.
- The minimum rate for a single person is $75 per month. It increases based on the number of people in the family. For those who are not receiving a shelter allowance, a minimum shelter allowance will be automatically added to assistance payments starting in April 2022.
Tenant startup kits:
- To help people moving from homelessness into more stable housing, government will fund a provincial non-profit organization that will partner with local service providers to provide tenant startup kits.
- The kits will include items, such as dishes, bedding and cleaning supplies.