The BC government is granting $6 million to the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) for a Homelessness Community Action Grant, to help groups address homelessness in their towns and cities.
The province said the grants will support organizations with a BC-wide focus to explore better ways of meeting the needs of particular groups of people that have a higher risk of experiencing homelessness.
“Preventing homelessness is a critical part of TogetherBC: BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.
Through the grants, Simpson said, “we will build partnerships with local organizations and help people facing homelessness to prevent it from happening in the first place.”
SPARC BC will distribute the Homelessness Community Action Grants to groups and organizations over the next three years as a one-time grant to successful applicants.
The chosen projects “will build on local resources and knowledge about homelessness and its causes, increase public awareness and support, and respond to gaps in services for people experiencing homelessness,” according to a release from the province.
“Local organizations and non-profits are at the front lines of the homelessness crisis, and they have been doing great work creating partnerships to address homelessness at a local level,” said Lorraine Copas, executive director, SPARC BC. “This grant will support the sustainability of the work as they continue to make positive change.”
In total, through the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the province said it is investing $291 million to build 2,000 homes throughout BC, as well as providing annual operating funding to provide 24/7 staffing and support services. At this point, nearly 1,400 of those homes are complete.
“This additional $6-million investment has the potential to help communities co-ordinate their supports for people experiencing homelessness,” said said Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association.
TogetherBC, the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in early 2019 and included a newly created Homelessness Coordination Office that will work with partners across government and in the community to deliver a co-ordinated and proactive response to homelessness.
“Homelessness is a complex issue that requires many solutions,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. “We can only prevent homelessness by working together.”
This latest grant, she said, “supports communities and organizations on the ground who are dedicated to finding local solutions to preventing poverty.”
The province said the Homelessness Action Grant application form will soon be available on the SPARC BC website.