Finding housing for the chronically homeless of Chilliwack is underway as part of the Housing Hub pilot project.
“We’ve started to intake participants, and we have five people housed and one about to move in next week,” said Housing Hub coordinator Graham McMahon.
Housing Hub is a pilot project under the umbrella of Pacific Community Resources Society, in partnership with Xolhemet Society and Sto:lo Service Agency.
They are focused on housing the “chronically” homeless, McMahon said, estimated at 69 per cent of those living rough, but will also address and house the “episodically” homeless and those at-risk of it.
“It’s the vulnerable population we’re trying to prioritize because they are caught in a cycle that is extremely difficult to get out of,” McMahon said.
The last homeless count saw 221 on the streets, which does not include the hidden homeless and couch surfers who may number another 100. So the real number is likely closer than 300 to 320 homeless, according to anecdotal evidence.
“The first individual that we housed is still housed — months later,” McMahon underlined. “She was our first, and she’s doing well. That is success!”
Not only that, but the building manager where she’s living sees the valuable potential of the Housing Hub program, and is considering offering additional units.
In addition to the five already housed, eleven are either already in the intake process, or on the wait list awaiting a rental unit, through the Housing Hub. Of those chronically homeless, 70 per cent have lived in Chilliwack for six years or more, and 80 per cent two years or more, dispelling the incoming transient theory.
Reducing risk and increasing trust is part of it on the landlord side.
“What we really need at this point are more landlords with available units, or soon-to-be available units,” said McMahon.
Hub staff are actively working on several fronts at once, he stressed. They are procuring hub housing. They are intaking hub participants. They are supporting participants in their new homes. And finally they are building partnerships with agencies to get more supports in place, such as mental health services, employment services or counselling.
It’s a slow process. There are bureaucratic hoops, like background checks of participants.
The hub facilitates two kinds of housing, one involves independent rental units where the participant’s name is on the tenancy agreement with the landlord, and the other is congregate living where PCRS’s name is on the agreement. The tenants get a bedroom with a locking door and share common spaces with other residents.
Participants in both kinds of housing receive at least weekly home visits from Housing Hub staff to provide support and ensure the units are being cared for, which is a key point.
Referral to the housing hub by other Chilliwack agencies is the No. 1 way people on the streets are becoming participants in the pilot project, but some will self refer by contacting PCRS on Hocking.
Landlords and building managers with ads for rental units listed on Craigslist are being contacted by hub staff to gauge their interest in getting involved in the hub, which removes some level of risk for them with background checks already done, and some rent subsidies available.
“They also learn that we are only a phone call away,” said McMahon. They can address issues, or offer extra home visits and support on top of the weekly home visits they will already conduct.
They are trying to attract property owners and managers now to get the word out.
Some key benefits for landlords:
• Reduced risk of unit damage
• Rent payment security/consistency
• Thorough background checks
• Responsive/timely support for landlords’
• ‘Ready to Rent’ training for participants
• Landlords make a difference helping those most in need
For more information, for potential Housing Hub participants or landlords, contact Graham McMahon at