Finding housing for the homeless is an investment that pays off not only for individuals, but for the community.
With the release of a sobering report on homelessness in Greater Victoria, it’s clear the region has made progress, but still has a way to go.
Even though overall vacancy rates are up, the report from the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness says most of the growth is in the more expensive range of accommodation. For apartments under $700 a month, the vacancy rates are tiny.
For bachelor suites, the overall vacancy rate is 1.3 per cent, but for those under $700, the figure is 0.9 per cent. For one-bedroom suites, the figures are 2.9 and one per cent. If you hope for a two-bedroom suite for under $700, forget about it; there are none.
That means people on social assistance or the working poor are on the edge of homelessness. The paper suggests the region needs 1,500 units of affordable housing.
In the last five years, the region has added 750 units of supportive and affordable housing, and Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin says it has made strides in ending street homelessness. The challenge now, he says, is to prevent another wave of people from slipping into homelessness.
With housing, people are healthier and more productive. They are more likely to succeed in school and jobs, less likely to be a drain on law enforcement or health care.
The cost of affordable housing will be more than repaid by dividends of self-reliance and stability.