The Nanaimo community has received funding from the federal government for local initiatives that provide support to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rental supplements, the opening of warming centres, and mobile outreach to Indigenous homeless youth are just a few of the programs that have been funded over the past year.
Since April 2020, United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island and the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy have provided $1,254,632 in support in Nanaimo.
To ensure the funding reached those most in need quickly, United Way worked with a network of local service providers and the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition Community Advisory Board to distribute the funds. An initial $868,909 was allocated to 17 organizations delivering 25 programs. The remaining funds will be allocated to other programs working to end homelessness in the region.
The funding was provided through two streams:
Indigenous Homelessness – which provides funding to organizations that offer supports to meet the unique needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness in urban centres.
Designated Communities – which provided funding to organizations who help support people experiencing homelessness, while also working to reduce homelessness.
Some of these programs that have already been funded include:
Short-term rental supplements to keep people housed who have lost their job or experienced financial disruption because of COVID-19.
Shelter upgrades to help shelter spaces comply with COVID-19 health and safety regulations.
Two warming centres to give those living rough somewhere warm and dry to go in the day.
Re-opening existing services in keeping with COVID-19 health and safety regulations
Creating new transitional housing.
Providing urgent outreach services for substance use and addiction challenges.
Providing mobile outreach for Indigenous homeless youth.
Connecting Indigenous clients to health services, mental health support, and substance use treatment.
Offering basic need supports such as food hampers, personal hygiene supplies, winter gear, and PPE, etc.
Providing supports and training for front-line staff in the service sector to improve services to those experiencing homelessness.
A research study to collect data on the impacts of COVID-19 on homelessness, to learn from the community’s response and recommend improvements for ongoing service delivery.
The funds were issued to United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island (UWCNVI), as the Community Entity for the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy. The projects were reviewed and assessed with the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition’s Community Advisory Board.
Each year, Nanaimo receives approximately $616,624 to support local efforts to end homelessness through the Designated Communities stream and approximately $256,382 through the Indigenous Homelessness stream. The COVID-19 funding received since April 2020 was in addition to the annual funding.