Rotary Club drives youth housing forum

Growing West Shore population increases need for youth homelessness

Maureen Hobbs is excited about the possibilities.

The Colwood Rotary Club president is in the throes of rallying the troops, so to speak, in advance of a Sept. 28 forum addressing the need for stable, safe housing for youth at risk in the West Shore community.

Hobbs says estimates are as high as 20 to 30 the number of youth whose families or primary home is on the West Shore, but sleep outdoors or “couch surf” on any given night.

“We decided we need to do something; let’s not wait,” she said. “We’re hoping to get stakeholders in one room over a coffee or a glass of wine and talk about the options.”

Key to the discussion, she says, is the involvement of the Threshold Housing Society, which specifically provides transitional housing for youth in the region.

The society, which has its annual general meeting coming up Oct. 3, operates two group homes in the Victoria area, one each for women and men aged 16 to 21.

Hobbs says with the growing population on the West Shore and its incumbent challenges, the need to start talking about creating a facility out here, or at the very least spreading the word about available family resources, is growing.

Vulnerable youth for whom going home isn’t an option can gain a level of stability in their lives, she says, “if you have a secure home with a resident caregiver, close to resources.”

Next Monday’s meeting will feature a panel of speakers, including housing advocate Bill McElroy, Threshold Housing Society director Mark Muldoon and Mitzi Dean, executive director for Pacific Centre Family Services Association.

Hobbs says the goal is to reach out to area schools, health-care providers, businesses, churches, politicians and especially young adults to “begin the process of framing the issue on housing” and work to prevent homelessness on the West Shore.

Anyone is welcome to attend the gathering, which runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Royal Colwood Golf Club, 629 Goldstream Ave. Registration is requested; interested parties are asked to email Brian Davison at maureen.brian@shaw.ca or call 250-474-1665.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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