EDITORIAL: Housing needs not being met

West Shore municipalities have the right idea with affordable housing programs

A number of people are still occupying the grounds surrounding the Victoria courthouse. With three new shelters and transitional housing facilities recently opening their doors, this visual homeless population was meant to disappear from sight.

But with the new spaces in Victoria filled, and the View Royal facility expected to be operating at full or close to capacity by the end of the week, we have to wonder where all of these extra bodies are coming from.

A visible homeless population is a problem that isn’t necessarily thought of on the West Shore with its, let’s be honest, much less visible housing problems. The West Shore still has a homeless population but instead of taking up residence in public spaces, these people are coach surfing or finding other ways to remain under the radar. The fact, that at last count, there was only one homeless View Royal resident at Choices Transitional Home, 94 Talcott Rd., goes to show many West Shore residents are finding alternative solutions to their housing problems. Thus, we see the number of affordable housing programs offered by West Shore municipalities.

We often focus on the problems we see but rarely do we discuss those we don’t and on rarer occasion do we discuss some of the positive programs that aid in eliminating these problems.

Last week the M’akola Housing Society began accepting applications for its newest housing project at 550 Goldstream Ave. The new apartment building will have units ready for tenants to move in on April 1 and is aiming to bridge the gap in affordable housing for families.

While the Society has had to come up with a number of creative ways to make this project, and many others, possible, they also credit the City of Langford for making it happen. Through grants and various fee reductions the City contributed more than $260,000 towards this project. Langford also has developers contribute to a fund for more affordable housing options for each residential unit they build.

The City of Colwood also has developers pay a similar fee and City staff are exploring the best ways to work with local non-profits to ensure those funds are used in the most effective way.

These programs are mirrored by other West Shore municipalities.

With some of the facilities only receiving temporary funding from the province, we have to wonder whether these temporary solutions are actually solutions. Or are they really just making the problem less visible and thus easier to forget?

We think West Shore municipalities have a more sustainable approach to bridging the gap between the streets and long-term housing.

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