Victoria – 865 Catherine Street

A rendering of a four-storey supportive housing building with cars passing by.

The above image is a rendering subject to change.

BC Housing and the City of Victoria are moving forward with a plan develop approximately 45 new homes for people at risk of homelessness at 865 Catherine Street in Victoria.

This purchase is part of an ongoing commitment, working closely with the City of Victoria, to build housing solutions for those in need and is one of six new projects that will deliver more than 280 permanent supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness across the Capital region.

Housing with Supports

Supportive housing is a self-contained studio home with various support services provided on-site, to help people achieve and maintain housing stability. Supports could include:

  • outreach worker
  • life skills training
  • employment assistance
  • connection and referral to community services and support groups.

Many of the people who will move into Catherine Street have been living successfully in the temporary shelters leased in Victoria. Staff would be on-site 24/7 working with each resident to understand their needs and goals.

An experienced non-profit housing partner will be selected to manage the proposed building. Applicants will go through an assessment process to make sure there is a mix of residents with the right supports. All residents will sign a program agreement (similar to a tenancy agreement) and pay rent.

Development Process

BC Housing and the local municipalities agree it is necessary to expedite the process to provide permanent supportive homes as soon as possible for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. We are taking this approach because we recognize our most vulnerable citizens are facing distinct risk through the COVID-19 pandemic and there is an immediate need in the Capital region to provide permanent supportive homes as soon as possible.

This means moving forward as efficiently as possible to create new healthy, safe and stable homes for those in need of housing. Therefore, BC Housing will be moving straight to the construction phase. BC Housing is working closely with the municipalities throughout the development process.

Demolition

Demolition work is due to begin Tuesday July 13, 2021 and will take up to 5 days. Demolition will facilitate the development of the site at 865 Catherine Street to provide 45 homes with supports for people at risk or experiencing homelessness in the Capital region.

What you can expect:

  • Minor traffic impacts
  • Noise from equipment, such as jackhammers
  • Hours of work will be between 7:00am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday. Work may also be required on Saturday.

The safety of neighbours and staff is our priority:

  • All work on site meets WorkSafe BC construction guidelines.
  • Workers will wear protective equipment.
  • COVID safety protocols are in place and will be followed.

The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society

The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society (ACEH) is the non-profit operator of 865 Catherine Street supportive housing. ACEH is a non-profit and registered charitable organization focused on supporting the Indigenous street community. ACEH is an experienced housing partner; BC Housing has previously worked with the ACEH to support Spa' qun House. We are very grateful and proud to partner with ACEH again. To learn more about Spa' qun House, watch the video below:

The ACEH offers a decolonized harm reduction services, through the Indigenous Alcohol Harm Reduction Program. Gain an understanding of the ACEH and their approach by watching the below video:

Past Community Information Sessions

To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to learn more, ask questions and provide feedback about this proposal, BC Housing hosted three Neighbourhood Dialogue Sessions in May 2021. To continue to keep the community informed and provide an opportunity to learn more the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society, BC Housing also hosted a Community Information Session on July 7, 2021. Due to COVID-19, all meetings took place virtually. For privacy, these sessions were not recorded, however both PowerPoint presentations can be viewed below:

Your feedback and comments are important to us.

We welcome questions and comments below in the Q&A tool or by email to communityrelations@bchousing.org.

The above image is a rendering subject to change.

BC Housing and the City of Victoria are moving forward with a plan develop approximately 45 new homes for people at risk of homelessness at 865 Catherine Street in Victoria.

This purchase is part of an ongoing commitment, working closely with the City of Victoria, to build housing solutions for those in need and is one of six new projects that will deliver more than 280 permanent supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness across the Capital region.

Housing with Supports

Supportive housing is a self-contained studio home with various support services provided on-site, to help people achieve and maintain housing stability. Supports could include:

  • outreach worker
  • life skills training
  • employment assistance
  • connection and referral to community services and support groups.

Many of the people who will move into Catherine Street have been living successfully in the temporary shelters leased in Victoria. Staff would be on-site 24/7 working with each resident to understand their needs and goals.

An experienced non-profit housing partner will be selected to manage the proposed building. Applicants will go through an assessment process to make sure there is a mix of residents with the right supports. All residents will sign a program agreement (similar to a tenancy agreement) and pay rent.

Development Process

BC Housing and the local municipalities agree it is necessary to expedite the process to provide permanent supportive homes as soon as possible for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. We are taking this approach because we recognize our most vulnerable citizens are facing distinct risk through the COVID-19 pandemic and there is an immediate need in the Capital region to provide permanent supportive homes as soon as possible.

This means moving forward as efficiently as possible to create new healthy, safe and stable homes for those in need of housing. Therefore, BC Housing will be moving straight to the construction phase. BC Housing is working closely with the municipalities throughout the development process.

Demolition

Demolition work is due to begin Tuesday July 13, 2021 and will take up to 5 days. Demolition will facilitate the development of the site at 865 Catherine Street to provide 45 homes with supports for people at risk or experiencing homelessness in the Capital region.

What you can expect:

  • Minor traffic impacts
  • Noise from equipment, such as jackhammers
  • Hours of work will be between 7:00am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday. Work may also be required on Saturday.

The safety of neighbours and staff is our priority:

  • All work on site meets WorkSafe BC construction guidelines.
  • Workers will wear protective equipment.
  • COVID safety protocols are in place and will be followed.

The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society

The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society (ACEH) is the non-profit operator of 865 Catherine Street supportive housing. ACEH is a non-profit and registered charitable organization focused on supporting the Indigenous street community. ACEH is an experienced housing partner; BC Housing has previously worked with the ACEH to support Spa' qun House. We are very grateful and proud to partner with ACEH again. To learn more about Spa' qun House, watch the video below:

The ACEH offers a decolonized harm reduction services, through the Indigenous Alcohol Harm Reduction Program. Gain an understanding of the ACEH and their approach by watching the below video:

Past Community Information Sessions

To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to learn more, ask questions and provide feedback about this proposal, BC Housing hosted three Neighbourhood Dialogue Sessions in May 2021. To continue to keep the community informed and provide an opportunity to learn more the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society, BC Housing also hosted a Community Information Session on July 7, 2021. Due to COVID-19, all meetings took place virtually. For privacy, these sessions were not recorded, however both PowerPoint presentations can be viewed below:

Your feedback and comments are important to us.

We welcome questions and comments below in the Q&A tool or by email to communityrelations@bchousing.org.

Questions or comments? Please add below.

Guidelines for constructive and respectful dialogue

  • Please ensure your question is clear, concise, relevant to the project, and respectful.
  • Review our moderation policy. Questions that do not abide by the moderation policy or guidelines for respectful dialogue may not be answered.
  • We expect everyone will refrain from using language or acting in a way that is discriminating, threatening, abusive, racist or otherwise disrespectful. Discrimination or abusive language of any kind will not be tolerated.
  • Your question will appear once our team has answered it. If your question has already been answered, we may respond privately.
loader image
Didn't receive confirmation?
Seems like you are already registered, please provide the password. Forgot your password? Create a new one now.
  • What kinds of shared amenities does the supportive housing on Catherine St. have? e.g. include commercial kitchen to provide meals to residents?

    JJ asked 21 days ago

    865 Catherine Street will provide housing for the Indigenous Street Community in Victoria. BC Housing advised the community we would be engaging a nonprofit operator to manage this site. We are pleased that the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society (ACEH) have agreed to come on board.   

    The housing will provide onsite support services intended to help Indigenous peoples move off the streets permanently and re-build their lives. It will include cultural supports (for example Sprit Baths, therapeutic gardening and canning classes) to be determined with the ACEH.  

    The ACEH will work to build a supportive community for the residents of Catherine St. They support individuals holistically by creating a place of healing and a sense of family.   

    The building will be designed with the neighbourhood aesthetic in mind and incorporate supportive housing best practices (single point of entry, common amenity space, security features).  

    The supportive homes will be studio apartments. Each resident has their own self-contained studio home (washroom and kitchen).   

  • When will site plans be shared with the community?

    bhhill65 asked 2 months ago

    Site plans will be shared with the community once they have been finalized and approved. 

    Currently our plan is for demolition to begin mid-July and construction to start in early August, 2021.

  • How is the government going to address the negative impact on home owners and the decreased value of their homes. Putting in this shelter does not follow the neighbourhood plan for this area. By imposing this development on our street you will change the whole neighbourhood. Being a tax payer, do we not have any rights? How are you going to assure the safety of our children and elderly, and how are you going to compensate us for the reduced value of our homes?

    J&D asked 3 months ago

    We all want safe neighbourhoods, and we hear your concerns. The safety of residents, staff and the surrounding community is a priority. This would be a purpose-built property and security measures would include well-lit and fenced grounds, extensive camera monitoring and a controlled single point of entry. The most important security feature, both for residents and the community, is staffing. The building would have staff onsite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure that residents are supported and that any concerns are addressed in the timely manner. 

    People who live in supportive housing may be seniors, people with disabilities, people who have employment but no housing, or people who are working through mental health concerns and/or substance use.

    We hear a lot of questions about property values in relation to supportive housing. That’s why BC Housing commissioned research, completed in 2019, of 13 B.C. supportive housing sites. The study found that property values immediately surrounding 10 sites either kept pace or surpassed surrounding municipal trends. Property values for the other three sites were not notably different compared to municipal trends.  

  • Why this location

    concerned on cooperage asked 3 months ago

    The province recognizes the immediate need to provide secure housing for people experiencing and at risk of homelessness in the City of Victoria, which is why we purchased this property. The project on Catherine Street is one of six that BC Housing is building in the CRD

    Supportive housing locations are determined based on proximity to services, amenities, and availability of property. Housing for people experiencing homelessness needs to meet people where they are at, providing connection to the resources that people need to work towards living a healthy, stable life. Access to community services and transit is key for people without homes, but so is feeling part of a neighbourhood.

  • Why are all of these homeless shelters centralized in one area? Why don't we see more shelters where these victoria counselors and mayor live. Why are they not on Fairfield, oak bay and saanich. All in one area is Very unfair. Maybe those voting in favor need to move and live with their decisions too.

    Thnkfst asked 3 months ago

    There is an urgent need to house people experiencing homelessness in Victoria. Point-in-time homeless counts in 2020 found there are over 1,500 people experiencing homelessness in the city.  

    The project on Catherine Street is one of six that BC Housing is building across the CRD, including in Saanich. This is not a shelter. It will provide permanent homes for people with supports so that people can stabilize their lives. 

    Housing for people experiencing homelessness needs to meet people where they are, providing connection to the resources that people need to work towards living a healthy, stable life. Please review this factsheet for more information. Access to community services and transit is key for people without homes, but so is feeling part of a neighbourhood.

  • directly in the middle of a residential neighborhood. i wondered why "for sale" signs were going up everywhere in the two blocks that i have lived in for 25 years. we need solutions for the homeless, but solutions that are shared across the city and not just dropped into neighborhoods because they have a higher rental rate. there is plenty of commercial/industrial land in the cities core. the province simply had to reach out to find willing sellers. how will the province be responding to the high volumes of long term residents chaining themselves to industrial equipment used in the construction process for this project? is that what will be necessary to induce proper public consultation?

    chuck asked 4 months ago

    Hi Chuck

    Thanks for your question.

    Sites for supportive housing are selected based on various criteria. BC Housing looks to acquire property based on community need and where there is an urgent need for more supportive housing in Victoria..

    Point-in-time homeless counts in 2020 found there are over 1,500 people experiencing homelessness in the city. This new development is just one of several in the Capital Regional District, accounting for 45 of the almost 300 units planned or under development

    Check out this video of new supportive housing in Parksville to provide a better understanding of the safety features of supportive housing: Orca Place - Parksville Supportive Housing.  

    To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to learn more, ask questions and provide feedback about this proposal we will be hosting three Neighbourhood Dialogue Sessions as we share information about this proposed project and how it will support people in the community who are at risk or currently experiencing homelessness.

    These facilitated sessions will begin with a presentation to share information on the proposed project, followed by a question-and-answer period.

    Please sign up for one of the following sessions (space is limited):

    May 3: 2:30-4pm 
     
    May 3: 5:30-7pm 
     
    May 5: 2:30-4pm 

    If you have any questions, please email communityrelations@bchousing.org 

  • You have provided a cost breakdown of how much it cost taxpayers for people living on the street and how much it cost to house people in 865 Catherine Street. Is that a solution? It may be cheaper on paper but in terms of the impact on the community's safety and impact on our strata going up due to consistent break-in is not cheaper. Do you have evidence of this housing model being successful? Is anyone on the community relations team or anyone from BC Housing living in this area that will be directly impacted? As you can read from the previous posts that since the pandemic "WE" people who live in this area have seen an increase in break-ins (directly increases our strata fees), and our impact of safety in our community. Would you want your son, daughter, friend, grandchildren, mother, aunt, uncle, and father moving into this community with 45 new homes being built for at-risk homeless? Interestingly, you have stated that you will have 24/7 staff at Catherine Street, what about the rest of the community's safety?

    asked 4 months ago

    Studies show the cost of providing supportive housing is less than the cost of providing the health and public safety services needed to address homelessness.

    BC Housing has an extensive research centre on our website that is publicly accessible. Here you’ll find links to studies from provincial and federal agencies, as well as BC Housing’s own research. If there is a particular research topic at top of mind, let me know and I can direct you. 

    You may find the resources below of particular interest, as they relate to your questions.

    Sites for supportive housing are selected based on various criteria. BC Housing looks to acquire property based on community need and where there is an urgent need for more housing. Housing for people experiencing homelessness needs to meet people where they are, providing connection to the resources that people need to work towards living a healthy, stable life.

    People experiencing homelessness are already a part of the community; we want to help them find safe and stable housing in the community and bring people inside from the streets.  

    BC Housing and our non-profit housing operators are committed to being good neighbours. Tenants will sign program agreements, and the building would have staff onsite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure that residents are supported and that any concerns are addressed in the timely manner.  

    Check out this video of new supportive housing in Parksville to provide a better understanding of the safety features of supportive housing: Orca Place - Parksville Supportive Housing.     

  • If the people you are housing are safe and not marginalized, then why does the facility need a well-lit and fenced grounds, with extensive camera monitoring and a controlled single point of entry? This does not sound like a facility for seniors or individuals who are only looking for a home. What is BC Housing hiding, what is really going on here? If these individuals are screened and triaged into the appropriate facilities there should be no need for security and fencing in a local community. Providing housing for people who have lost their job and need some social support is one thing in a local residential area, providing housing with security measures indicates that the facility will be whoever and the police and local community to deal with the outfall. Typical government poor planning and misuse of resources. How many of these facilities exist beside an elementary school with kids under the age of 8 years old? How many more innocent kids will become victims in the local neighbourhood?

    Barry asked 4 months ago

    As with many residential apartment buildings, there are fob entries, and well-lit parkades and common areas to ensure resident safety. Fenced grounds provide privacy for the tenants. 

    Many supportive housing sites for people experiencing homelessness across the province have been operating in their communities and near schools for 10+ years with no issues and with support from the community. There are over 210 provincially funded supportive housing sites across the province that are within 500 metres of a school, and 52% of provincially funded supportive housing sites in B.C. within 500 metres of schools have been operating for 10+ years.  

    Check out this video of new supportive housing in Parksville, which demonstrates the safety features of supportive housing: Orca Place - Parksville Supportive Housing.  

  • What percentage of social housing is near kids in school between the ages of 4 and 9? You mention 52% is near schools, but what is near little kids. The parks in the area are already asking parents to look for needles and there has already been too many close calls.

    Kerry asked 4 months ago

    Hi Tom,

    The figures in the report refer to schools from K-12. You can read more about this research here and review additional Toolkits on our website.

  • Our house has been broken into several times since people have been camping in vic west park. Why is the methodology provide housing then phone the police after. There is already vandalism and crime, a little boy was attacked this morning. How many kids have to get hurt before you stop your political agenda. The funding needs to bring back Aslyums, I would rather have that on Catherine st then more social housing.

    Kerry asked 4 months ago

    BC Housing engages and collaborates with many stakeholders when developing new supportive housing. As part of this early dialogue, BC Housing seeks to understand how to effectively support local government in addressing their own community goals for addressing homelessness.

    We agree that as a long-term strategy, including City Police early in the conversation is important, which is why BC Housing and the non-profit housing operator will work together to establish a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that would oversee the supportive housing’s integration within the community and will address any concerns raised by people in the neighbourhood. 

    CACs are a key part of how we ensure that supportive housing buildings integrate well into their neighbourhoods, and our experience is that they have been very effective at helping communities work together to address concerns and endure a positive connection with neighbours.

    The CAC includes representation from BC Housing, the housing operator, the local health authority, municipalities, RCMP/Police, Business Associations/Chamber, any relevant community partners such as school district, service providers and community members at large. 

    We want the project to be successful, but it takes a community to tackle homelessness. The CAC strives to implement solutions that create a safe, healthy and inclusive community.