Outreach workers have offered all homeless campers in Oppenheimer Park a chance to move to a hotel room with wraparound supports as of Friday afternoon, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson said.
Simpson gave an update on the province’s plan announced April 25 to transition residents of homeless camps in Vancouver and Victoria to hotels before moving them into more permanent supportive housing.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, many hotel rooms in the province are sitting empty. What’s more, physical distancing is impossible at crowded homeless camps, officials said at the time.
More than 320 homeless residents have been moved from camps in Vancouver and Victoria to temporary hotel accommodation so far. The original deadline to move residents from camps to hotels was Saturday, May 9.
But over in Victoria, the moves are going more slowly. Simpson says the province has extended its deadline to move those camped in Topaz Park and along Pandora Avenue until May 20.
The extension gives hotels and staff more time to prepare for guests’ arrival.
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No one will be asked to leave their tent without being offered a temporary housing option that meets their needs, Simpson said in a news release. Friends and family will be able to stay together, and “culturally sensitive” housing arrangements will be available, he added.
“Action needed to be taken for the health, safety and well-being of campers, and the frontline workers who support them,” Simpson said.
“We knew this would be a challenging transition for people, but I am proud of the significant steps we have taken to provide safer and more secure options for people.”