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B.C. government funds Victoria housing for former inmates

Construction is underway for a new six-storey, 28-unit transitional houses for former inmates
B.C.'s Minister of Children and Family Development Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria Beacon-Hill, Tuesday, June 18, highlights work on a new housing project for individuals on parole.

A new Greater Victoria housing project for individuals promises to reduce recidivism, but the need for the program exceeds supply. 

Manj Toor, executive director of the John Howard Society Victoria, said the 28-unit, six-storey building under construction in Victoria, will help former inmates reintegrate into society as a transitional house. "Affordable housing and supportive services are critical for stabilization after incarceration and reducing recidivism." 

Correctional Services Canada screens would-be residents, who would be staying at the facility for about a year as John Howard Society staff assist them in finding permanent housing. Construction of the new building is underway and it is expected to open in the spring of 2026. 

Counting correctional services in B.C. alone, some 1,600 individuals find themselves in custody. B.C. Corrections also supervises more than 17,000 individuals following their release into their respective communities. These figures do not include inmates in federal prisons. 

Toor added that many individuals are homeless when they enter the justice system and those with homes can lose their housing while serving their sentences. "Some are unable to pay deposits and fees to sign rental agreements," he said, adding individuals leaving the justice system often face stigmatization. "Safe and secure housing is critical to maintaining a person's dignity, which is why it's the foundation we built on our aftercare model of life skills and employment training." 

John Howard Society Victoria currently operates three residential buildings with a total of 28 units and the new building on Princess Street doubles the society's stock of units. Toor added that the society is looking to expand its existing properties while looking for partnership with other non-profits to create more housing. But he readily acknowledges that more of the housing announced Tuesday is needed. "We are looking at between 75 to 100 units that we can use on southern Vancouver Island," he said.

He added that housing represents only one part of the puzzle. "One of the pieces that we're seeing is, it's not just housing, it's the wrap-around services that are needed." 

Funding for the new facility worth almost $18 million comes from a variety of sources, with the provincial government contributing almost $14 million.

B.C.'s Minister of Children and Family Development Grace Lore, who is also the MLA for Victoria Beacon-Hill, said the province's contribution is part of government's larger response to provincial housing needs. She added that the project will add vibrancy to its neighbourhood while helping individuals.

"These are the kinds of places we need to support, to wrap around, to connect and love folks in our community who need it and this housing will do it." 

Correctional Services Canada is contributing another $1.05 million, the John Howard Society $1.28 million and the City of Victoria $280,000. 

The project is also receiving $1.2 million from the Northpine Foundation, which describes itself as investing in "underserved and underinvested communities." 

Sara Tessier, a foundation director and former inmate herself, said the Victoria project could be scaled across the country, adding that a similar project could be coming to Nanaimo.

"Supporting reintegration programs is not just about helping individuals," she said. "It's about enhancing public safety and community health." 



Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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