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Applications open for Homelessness Community Action Grants

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 4:19 PST, Fri January 20, 2023

Indigenous organizations and other groups that work with people facing homelessness throughout British Columbia are encouraged to apply for the province's Homelessness Community Action Grants.

“The Homelessness Community Action Grants program is about empowering local organizations to increase awareness and support for those experiencing homelessness, while changing the conversation around the stigma and complex challenges associated with breaking the cycle of poverty,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “With the success of the first round of projects the need to fund another round of grants was clear. We were encouraged by the excellent Indigenous-led and focused projects and encourage more communities to come forward with ideas that can be supported and shared.”

Budget 2022 provides $6 million to the Homelessness Community Action Grant program. The program, administered by the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC), awards grants for as much as $50,000 to help communities and organizations better understand and respond to homelessness. SPARC is accepting applications.

In 2018, the province committed $6 million to start the grant program, which has funded 182 grant projects in urban and rural communities. Approximately one-quarter of the projects are Indigenous-focused.

One such project is the Aboriginal Housing Society of Prince George's Community Voicemail project, a free service that provides voicemail phone numbers to 500 low-income and homeless residents in Prince George. Participants can share the number with service providers.

This service supports self-sufficiency while reducing and preventing homelessness. It removes the challenges and barriers many people face in obtaining a phone contract and avoids additional phone fees for people who do have phones. It provides a crucial resource to help people get mental-health or substance-use care, find employment, or access housing.

“It is nice to be a part of a program that offers a hand up,” said Hawa Ayorech, community programs co-ordinator, Aboriginal Housing Society of Prince George. “It is joyous to see the shocked look in one's face when they learn the program is free. We at Aboriginal Housing Society are grateful to be involved in this initiative.”

The Homelessness Community Action Grants support community-based projects, partnerships, research, and other collaborative efforts to respond to gaps in the system of services and supports for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Chosen projects build on local resources and knowledge about homelessness and its causes, increase public awareness and support, and respond to gaps in services for people experiencing homelessness.

“It has been an honour and privilege for SPARC BC to have the opportunity to steward this program on behalf of the Government of British Columbia and to work together with community leaders who are on the front lines of this crisis,” said SPARC executive director Lorraine Copas. “This initiative speaks to the creativity, ingenuity, resilience, and commitment of people across the province who work tirelessly to address this ongoing challenge through the unique local contexts and solutions that exist in their communities. This program continues to make a tremendous difference in the lives of homeless individuals across B.C.”

Grant projects are underway throughout the province in rural and urban communities, and are inclusive of people with diverse and distinct needs, including First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and Indigenous Peoples, seniors, youth, 2SLGBTQ+ people, women, people living with disabilities, and racialized and immigrant populations.

In 2019, the province committed $6 million to launch the program through TogetherBC: BC's Poverty Reduction Strategy, part of a $633-million investment in actions to prevent and reduce homelessness. The province committed a new investment of $6 million to the Homelessness Community Action Grants in Budget 2022. Since 2017, B.C. has 7,107 supportive homes completed or underway in communities throughout the province.

For information about the program and how to apply, visit

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