Abbotsford is finally set to receive millions of dollars in federal funding to help address homelessness.
Abbotsford is one of six municipalities declared “designated communities” by the federal government on Thursday. Becoming a designated community will allow the city to collect nearly $3 million from the federal government over the next five years to help men, women and youth with homelessness. Chilliwack has also been selected.
The number of homeless people in both communities has risen dramatically over the past decade, but neither city had been eligible for millions of dollars in federal money given each year to such designated communities. Abbotsford was the largest of 16 cities to be shortlisted for the program. Federal officials had previously suggested the city would likely be selected as a designated community once contracts were re-opened in 2019.
This is the first time the list has been expanded since Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy was launched in 1999. There were previously 61 designated communities, including seven in B.C.: Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Prince George, Nelson, Vancouver and Victoria.
Cowichan Valley joined the Fraser Valley cities as designated community newcomers. But four other shortlisted B.C. cities – Penticton, Vernon, Comox Valley and Fort St. John – didn’t make the final cut.
Abbotsford has received federal homelessness money already, with the Canadian government providing about $400,000 to help Abbotsford create a co-ordinated intake and referral program. That funding was temporary, and intended to cover three years worth of work.
As a designated community, Abbotsford will receive just shy of $400,000 this year, and about $635,000 each year until 2023-2024. Unless the program is disbanded by the government, inclusion means the city is likely to be able to access such funding indefinitely.
The amount of money each community receives is based on its number of residents. Chilliwack will receive nearly $300,000 this year and about $473,000 next year.
Communities were asked to show how they could reduce the number of chronically homeless people in their community by half, according to a press release by the federal government.
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