Swift House to Expand / More Shelter Spaces

$4.25 Million for Supportive Housing Options in Victoria

June 30, 2010 – Victoria – BC Government News Release – The Province is investing $4 million to expand Cool Aid’s Swift House and $257,600 to provide additional emergency shelter spaces for the City of Victoria over the next four months, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman announced today.

“Our government is working with municipal and community partners to support economic growth and create innovative housing options,” said Coleman. “We are delivering on our commitment to the City of Victoria to provide three new supportive housing developments valued at more than $28 million so that people at risk of homelessness can forge a path towards a healthy, independent future.”

“Ending homelessness is a top priority for the City of Victoria, and supportive housing projects, like Swift House, are an important step in reaching that goal,” said Victoria Mayor and co-chair for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness Dean Fortin. “This project is evidence of what can be accomplished when everyone comes to the table with something to offer, bringing community together to make life better for everyone.”

The expansion of Cool Aid’s Swift House, located at 1634 Store St., will create approximately 20 to 23 new supportive housing apartments. Two other sites are currently under construction as part of an agreement between the Province and City of Victoria: 950 Humboldt St. and 535 Ellice St. Once complete, Cool Aid’s new shelter beds at Ellice Street will replace the existing Streetlink shelter, which will close and be turned into new apartments for Swift House.

“Knowing that the funding for the construction is now secure is very good news,” said Kathy Stinson, executive director for Victoria Cool Aid Society. “It takes a range of housing and support services to break the cycle of homelessness, and the ability to expand Swift House for more supportive apartments will be a significant addition to the resources we have available in our community.”

The 85 new emergency shelter spaces will be housed at three locations around the City of Victoria. They will be available from July 1–Oct. 31, 2010. The funding of $257,600 from the Province is the result of co-operation between community partners.

To help provide support services, AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI) has also agreed to reallocate some existing services to help street homeless and those with substance abuse issues. As part of this change, two outreach workers and an addiction support worker will offer basic short-term interventions aimed at preventing the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases.

Outreach services are offered seven days a week, while the addiction support services are offered Monday to Friday. These support services are based out of the Streetlink shelter. People in need will be connected with other health and social services for more extensive care as required.

“Together with the Victoria Cool Aid Society that operates Streetlink, we’ve prepared a service plan to ensure the integrated supports will be suitable for those who need them. Resources like these will make a real difference in people’s lives,” said Marilyn Callahan, board chair, AIDS Victoria Island.

In 2010-11, B.C.’s budget for social housing is approximately $562 million, more than four times as much as in 2001.

“Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness” is a website providing a comprehensive and detailed look at provincial programs and services to address homelessness. Visit www.bchousing.org/breakingthecycle for more information.





Provincial Housing Investments in Victoria

Today’s announcement is part of the Province’s significant investment in housing in Victoria since 2001, as part of the provincial housing strategy, Housing Matters BC.

Highlights include:

New Supportive Housing

  • More than $28 million has been allocated for three sites through a 2008 agreement between the Province and the City of Victoria, creating approximately 170 new apartments and shelter beds to alleviate homelessness.
  • The Province has funded three additional housing developments since 2006 to address homelessness in Victoria:
    • $8.2 million in capital funding for Our Place, a five-storey development with 45 transitional housing apartments, meal services for the tenants and the homeless, a daytime drop-in centre and support services.
    • $5.8 million to purchase the Gorge Waterway Apartments, with 49 units of supportive housing operated by the Pacifica Housing Advisory Association.
    • $87,000 capital improvement grant for renovations to a house to create a six-bed residential addictions treatment facility called Beacon of Hope, for males aged 13-18.

Single Room Occupancy Hotel and Affordable Housing Acquisitions

  • The Province spent $1.2 million to purchase Desmond House (Pandora Hotel), a 28-room SRO now operated by the Victoria Cool Aid Society with support services.
  • In addition, the Province spent $4.8 million to purchase two apartment buildings, with a total of 46 apartments, to provide affordable housing with support services:
    • $2.1 million for Magdelaine Court, with 19 units of supportive housing operated by the Cridge Centre for the Family.
    • $2.7 million for Queen’s Court, with 27 units of supportive housing operated by Pacifica Housing Advisory Association.
  • A 10-bed rooming house located 1729 Oak Bay Avenue was purchased and renovated for nearly $870,000 to provide services to people with mental health and addictions issues and is operated by Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Emergency Shelters and Homeless Outreach

  • 85 temporary shelter beds are being added at three Victoria locations:
    • Fifteen additional beds for men and women will be at Cool Aid’s Streetlink shelter at 1634 Store St. The beds will be available 24/7 with provision of full support services provided to the year-round beds.
    • Forty mats will be at the Church of Saint John the Divine at 1611 Quadra St. It will be operated by Cool Aid as a low-barrier shelter available to men, women, couples and their pets. It will be open from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
    • 30 mats for men will be at the Salvation Army Chapel at 525 Johnson St. It will be open from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. and provide breakfast.
  • There are currently just over 140 year-round emergency shelter beds funded by the Province in Victoria, receiving annual funding of approximately $4.7 million.
  • Most are now open 24/7 to offer better services and access to more permanent forms of housing and support.
  • Approximately $275,000 in annual funding is provided through the Homeless Outreach Program, so outreach workers with non-profit societies can connect people who are street-homeless to housing and support services.
  • Nearly 1,000 street homeless in Victoria have been provided with stable housing options since the outreach services were introduced in 2006.
  • Earlier this year the Province provided a one-time grant of $60,000 for the Our Place drop-in centre, allowing it to open two hours earlier each weekday morning.

Existing Affordable Housing

  • Approximately $3.1 million is being spent on social housing renovations in Victoria, to improve some of the older of the 4,800 provincially subsidized units in Victoria that receive approximately $18.6 million in funding every year.
  • These 4,800 provincially-subsidized units include 175 low-income working family households who receive monthly subsidies of approximately $350 each for private market rental housing through the Rental Assistance Program.
  • Also included are nearly 800 seniors’ households who receive monthly subsidies of approximately $150 each for private market rental housing through the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program.



The Victoria Cool Aid Society has been building hope, lives and community in the Capital Region since 1968, through a wide range of programs including supported housing, community health and dental services, emergency shelter, and mental health services and a casual labour pool for adults who are homeless or in need of help.


AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI) is a community-based AIDS Service Organization serving the needs of people infected and affected by HIV and hepatitis C. AVI provides education, advocacy and support, and conducts outreach, working with a wide-range of populations from men who have sex with men, to people who use drugs by injection, the homeless, Aboriginal people, and women. AIDS Vancouver Island has served is a vital component of the effort against HIV/AIDS since 1986.


Media contacts:

Rachel Nelken
BC Housing
604-505-8428 (cell)

Katie Josephson
City of Victoria
250-217-8343 (cell)

Kathy Stinson
Victoria Cool Aid Society

Andrea Langlois
AIDS Vancouver Island


For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.