Community in Focus: Housing

Women+ at Risk of Violence and Homelessness

The Surfacing Our Strengths Solutions Lab, a partnership of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, and SHIFT Collaborative, is tackling the interconnected health, well-being, and housing challenges of women and gender-diverse people at risk of violence and homelessness.

The Solutions Lab centres voices of women+ with lived experiences of violence and homelessness to develop, test, and prototype solutions and create road maps for the most promising ones. Between 2020 and 2022, the Solutions Lab engaged 60 participants from 43 organizations across 11 sectors, including six peer researchers, and generated five prototypes, of which three are prioritized for implementation:

  • System Operations & Safety Peer Navigators (SoS-PN) to support women+ at risk or fleeing violence to navigate and leverage existing resources
  • Culturally appropriate safe space and framework to engage women+ at risk of violence and homelessness in housing solutions
  • Data collection about women+ at risk of violence and homelessness to inform the region’s Coordinated Access and Assessment process for supportive housing

Sources: Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, and SHIFT Collaborative

Homelessness Integrated Data Project

A first-of-its-kind integrated data project on homelessness in B.C. will help target provincial resources to improve supports for people experiencing homelessness and help prevent people from becoming homeless.

The project compiles and analyzes data on homelessness from provincial employment assistance, shelters, and health programs, pulling together key information about the number of people who experienced homelessness over the course of a year in B.C. The project uses anonymized data from 2019 to create a reliable picture of people experiencing homelessness, including the community where they lived and whether their homelessness was short-term or chronic.

Previously, the Province had homelessness data only from community point-in-time counts that were known to undercount homelessness. The new data will be collected and reported each year to provide information on trends and target solutions to homelessness where they will be most effective.

Source: Province of British Columbia

Indigenous Led Culturally Supportive Housing

The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) serves the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Street Family in Victoria’s downtown core. In 2020 the ACEH created B.C.’s first culturally supportive housing program based on a dual model of housing care that provides housing and pathways to healing from intergenerational harms rooted in colonial trauma.

In 2022 the 11-unit Culturally Supportive House transitioned to a 45-unit building, aptly named House of Courage. Residents have access to Elder support, medicine keepers, cultural mentors, native medicine gardens, traditional foods, cultural programming, land-based healing, and the Indigenous Alcohol Harm Reduction Residence Program (IAHRP), including the city’s first Indigenous-led home detox.

The IAHRP is guided by the ACEH’s Elders and Knowledge Keepers Advisory. Over the next three years, the program will be developed and evaluated with support from the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.

Source: Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness