The Province, through BC Housing, has signed a lease with GSL Group that will allow the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (SOFMC) to be used again for temporary housing beginning in March.
Securing, preparing and staffing this facility is a significant step towards meeting the Province and City of Victoria’s goal of having enough indoor spaces available to move people living in encampments in Victoria by the end of March. The facility will provide shelter and wraparound supports for up to 45 people currently experiencing homelessness.
Arena shelter guests will be selected and prioritized through a thorough assessment of applications submitted to BC Housing’s Supportive Housing Registry, in conjunction with referrals from Island Health and community partners.
People experiencing homelessness in encampments throughout Victoria, particularly those who are vulnerable to COVID-19, will be prioritized for access. Priority applications will include Indigenous persons, people experiencing long-term homelessness, people over the age of 55 and those who have pre-existing health conditions.
PHS Community Services Society will operate the temporary shelter as it did last year, from May to the end of September.
Site and operational logistics, including specific access timing and operational funding, are being finalized. The plan is to mirror a similar setup to the previous SOFMC use. This included access to meals, washroom facilities and wraparound supports, such as health-care services, addictions treatment and harm reduction and other supports.
Terms of the lease are from Feb. 1 to May 30, 2021, with options to extend beyond May 30 pending lease extension discussions with GSL Group. The March access date will allow BC Housing and its partners time to set up the SOFMC.
As part of its broader City of Victoria strategy to move people inside, BC Housing continues to work with partners to find more indoor spaces for people living outside.