According to the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition, there are approximately 6,000 people in the city living on the brink of homelessness, while another 1,795 experience homelessness every year.

The group says the number of people currently facing chronic homelessness is likely around 600.

At this week’s council meeting, Nanaimo city council moved on two projects aimed at helping.

First, the city has approved a development permit for 702 Nicol street.

BC Housing owns the vacant property, and intends to build new permanent housing and “bridge to housing” spaces on the property.

The new building will have 52 homes. These will provide long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. There will also be 14 bridge-to-housing homes for women in need.

Island Crisis Care Society will operate this new building. There will be staff onsite 24/7.

Also at this week’s council meeting, the City moved on recommendations of the Health and Housing Task Force’s Action Plan.

The Action plan highlights where the Nanaimo specific problems are, what service and resource gaps exist, and where help is needed the most. The recommendations from the Action Plan, include the:

* Creation of a Health and Housing Governance Board to oversee the implementation of the plan.

* Establishment of a Funders’ Table with the aim of securing the $65.5M needed to meet Nanaimo’s health and housing needs over the next five years. 

* Formation of a Health and Housing Systems Planner Organization to help optimize current approaches and maximize return on investment.

To help move forward with the implementation of the Action Plan, Council directed City staff to establish a transition group to focus on the overall governance requirements, guide the implementation of the System Planner Organization, and report back to Council as soon as possible.

The Nanaimo Homeless Coalition has also setup a website highlighting key points from the Action Plan, which includes the framework for action as well as next steps.