Mar.10,2011 Group Wants to Help Nanaimo Homeless

Group wants to help Nanaimo homeless with temporary housing
Dustin Walker, Daily News

Published: Thursday, March 10, 2011

An organization that provides temporary housing for homeless people in
south Vancouver Island plans to expand to Nanaimo.

The Victoria Human Exchange Society operates a total of seven houses
in Victoria, Sidney and Saltspring Island that offer safe and affordable housing to people stricken by poverty.

Leanne Salter is working with the VHES to bring similar services to
Nanaimo.

She hopes enough volunteers will step forward to make the Nanaimo
Transitional Housing for Homeless Project a reality. “I think Nanaimo continues to do good work on housing, but there are still people who need it,” she said.

The VHES rents houses from landlords then collects nominal rents, usually what is provided through income assistance, from the occupants to help cover its costs.

The organization then helps the residents work on issues that have
prevented them from securing a permanent place to live.

The average stay in VHES transitional housing, which is drug and
alcohol-free, is around six months, said Salter.

“So by the time they leave, they are moving into stable housing.”

Salter said this initiative would start in Nanaimo with just one rented
home and hopefully build from there.

Patricia Fitzgerald, with VHES, said this project would be a good fit for
the city.

“We hope this will spread everywhere. It is a very good grassroots
idea where people can reach out and help one another,” she said.

In addition to collected rents, VHES is funded by community donations and some government funding.

The group has been operating for 18 years.

A meeting to discuss details about the transitional housing project will
take place today from 10 a.m. to noon at the Nanaimo Museum.

Anyone interesting in volunteering is encouraged to attend.

Anyone interested can call Salter at 250-248-8097 for more details.

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