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Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.

BC Housing

Offering support to BC's most vulnerable people

Craig Crawford

Web-only article from "Housing and Homelessness" issue of Visions Journal, 2007, 4 (1)

There is a basic connection between housing and health. When people have a safe, stable home, they are healthier and they can focus on other concerns that may need attention. These concerns can include mental health or addiction issues, escaping an abusive relationship, finding employment or getting on income assistance.

Supportive housing is a mixture of housing and support services that has no commonly used definition. This lack of definition affects all aspects of the topic including public planning, fact finding and analysis, and communications. Generally speaking, supportive housing for people with mental health and addiction issues can be divided into two broad categories: housing based and medical models.

Medical models are licensed care facilities with professional staff available on a regular basis. The housing-based model provides a range of accommodation options, from group homes, to single rooms with common bathrooms, to self-contained housing units with private bathrooms and kitchens. The support services provided also cover a wide range of options, including on-site staff and community-based programs.

Our role

BC Housing is the provincial agency that creates, runs and oversees the subsidized, supportive housing options that serve those people who are most in need in our province. To do this, we work with many partners, including all levels of government, non-profit housing providers and community groups.

BC Housing provides this range of housing and supports through a number of different programs. These programs aim to help move people from emergency housing, to transitional housing and, finally, to permanent housing.



# Units

Provincial Homelessness Initiative

To break the cycle of homelessness by combining support services with housing.

Nearly 2,300 in more than 20 communities.

Further Information:

  • 43 projects in 21 communities throughout BC are currently being developed.

  • Responding to local community needs, these projects include a variety of housing types and ways of providing services, from short-term-stay shelters to transition and permanent housing with support services.

  • The support services include counselling, treatment for mental health and addictions, and services that link people to job training and stable employment.

  • The non-profit housing societies that manage the developments are responsible for tenant selection and people must apply directly to them. Social services providers may refer and assist people with applications.



# Units

Emergency Shelter Program

To fund homeless shelters and drop-in centres offering temporary shelter, food and other services for people who are homeless.

1,410 year-round beds (includes 344 cold/wet weather beds) plus 30 new cold/wet weather beds.

Further Information:

  • The program serves people who often have health, addiction and other barriers that may have contributed to their homeless state and make it difficult to secure stable housing.

  • Stays are based on emergency need and are only for a short time. During this time staff work with clients to find transitional or permanent housing.

  • Shelters provide referrals to agencies that can provide further support services.

  • For information about the locations of homeless shelters, during office hours call 604-660-4927 or, toll-free, 1-800-663-9122; after hours call 604-660-3194 or, toll-free, 1-866-660-3194.



# Units

Homeless Outreach Projects

To ensure that residents in subsidized housing* have the proper support services in place to help them with their mental and physical health issues.

Over 1,500 people housed.

Further Information:

  • This program helps people who have symptoms of mental illness, behavioural problems and other wellness issues find the right housing and support.

  • Referrals to the program are accepted from mental health services, homeless outreach programs, designated non-profit housing providers that offer supported and/or transitional housing, and BC Housing staff. For more information call 604-439-4742.



# Units

Addiction Recovery Program

To provide transitional housing, counselling and support services to people in recovery from substance use problems once they have completed a support recovery program.

93 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region; 26 in the Fraser Health region.1

Further Information:

  • Program participants live in public housing* units.

  • There have been 50 graduates since the program began as a partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health in 2002.

  • The program expanded to Fraser Health in 2007 and other health regions have shown interest.

  • Program coordinators are responsible for the clinical assessment and placement of applicants in units. In Vancouver Coastal Health, call 604-694-2600; in Fraser Health, call 604-525-3033.

About the author
Craig is Vice-President, Development Services, at BC Housing. He is responsible for implementing provincial and joint federal-provincial subsidized housing programs.
  1. Vancouver Coastal Health includes Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore, the Sea-to-Sky corridor, the Sunshine Coast, and Bella Bella and Bella Coola. Fraser Health covers from Burnaby east through the Fraser Valley to Hope. For more detail, visit


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