Local programs deliver more services to tackle homelessness provincewide

VULNERABLE people in 48 communities throughout British Columbia will benefit from increased local services in response to homelessness made worse by the pandemic.

“Local governments have been on the front lines of the pandemic, supporting communities and continuing to provide critical services when people need them most,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “These grants will provide local governments with a much-needed boost to continue vital services that were strained because of the pandemic. This is another StrongerBC program focused on making life better for people and ensuring communities emerge from the pandemic even stronger than before.”

The Strengthening Communities’ Services Program gives local governments and modern Treaty Nations additional capacity to address the effects of homelessness and keep their communities safe and healthy as they recover from the pandemic. The program is investing more than $76 million in projects, such as outreach and mental health supports, and expanding or creating new temporary shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

The City of Surrey’s Pandemic Response Package is one of the projects being funded to bring immediate relief to people. It includes programs such as:

* Safe Sleep, which creates a safe space for people without shelter to use during the day; and

* Nourish Surrey, which offers people a comfortable place to rest during the day, with nutritious meals and health and social services.

“Through our pandemic response package, we will deliver six programs that together will address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and improve health and safety outcomes for unsheltered and vulnerable citizens,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. “The programs will deliver additional temporary shelter accommodation, enhanced meal services, expand health services and provide targeted outreach supports for vulnerable unsheltered people hit hardest by the pandemic.”

The Strengthening Communities Services Program is open to all municipalities, regional districts and modern Treaty Nations in B.C. It is administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities on behalf of the Province.

“B.C. local governments have been calling for additional funding to improve services for residents facing mental-health challenges or homelessness,” said Brian Frenkel, President, Union of B.C. Municipalities. “The Strengthening Communities program is highly adaptable to the specific needs of communities and is fostering creativity and innovation in how services are delivered. I appreciate the provincial funding for this program and look forward to seeing these new projects move into implementation.”

The program is part of the Safe Restart Agreement, which is funded equally by the Province and the Government of Canada.

Quick Facts

* The Government of Canada and the Province are providing $540 million in shared funding to local governments under the Safe Restart Agreement to help communities manage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

* In addition to the $100-million Strengthening Communities’ Services Program, other funding includes:
– $425 million in direct grants for local government operations to address facility reopening and operating costs, emergency response costs, lost revenue and other COVID-19-related effects; and

– $15 million for the Local Government Development Approvals Program to increase the efficiency of local development approval processes.