The federal government has allocated nearly $300,000 to help Nanaimo provide more shelters for the homeless.
The United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island recently announced the organizations will receive $298,642 during the next two years from the federal government’s Homeless Partnering Strategy program.
Kyla Karakochuk, marketing and communications officer for the United Way, said the money will go a long way. The United Way will work with Nanaimo Homeless Coalition to figure out how best to distribute the money.
“We have got some designated funding for housing Nanaimo’s most chronically homeless people and with that money I think we can house up to 40 people who need it the most,” Karakochuk said.
In February, Nanaimo was one of a handful of communities across Canada that participated in the country’s first-ever Point-in-Time Homeless Count. The results indicated that there are 175 people in Nanaimo who are considered homeless, although Karakochuk said that number could be much higher right now.
“That 175 people was a minimum number,” she said. “There could be potentially more, especially because that homeless point-in-time count took place in February, whereas we tend to see higher numbers in the summer months when it is a bit warmer outside.”
The additional money could provide housing for up 40 individuals in Nanaimo, according to Karakochuk, who said the United Way and the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition’s aim is to get the city’s chronically homeless off the streets and into housing of some kind, whether it be a basement suite or a one-bedroom apartment.
“It is just getting people into a house … and we try to do it downtown because it is closer to a lot of the services, like 7-10 Club,” she said.
Karakochuk said the United Way is pleased to receive the additional money, adding that it will make a difference in the community.
“We are really happy to have the money because it is going to help people get off the streets in Nanaimo,” she said. “Especially people who have been living here long term.”