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Premier Eby unveils plan to ‘end encampments’

The B.C. government’s $4-billion Homes for People Action Plan outlines strategy to address homeless encampments across the province.
The east end of the Lower Patricia encampment, called Moccasin Flats by residents, is seen on March 9.

B.C. Premier David Eby unveiled a $4-billion housing strategy for the province Monday, including new strategies to address homeless encampments like Prince George’s Lower Patricia encampment, named Moccasin Flats by residents.

The Homes for People Action Plan features a variety of strategies to increase affordable housing and reduce homelessness, including plans to address homeless encampments. The plan looks to build on the $7 billion, 10-year Homes for BC: A 30 Point Plan for Housing Affordability.

“Now a new homelessness framework will escalate that effort to meet the full range of needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and to end encampments,” the plan says.

The plan outlined three new measures to “close encampments and better support people currently sheltering in encampments to access housing.”

The plan calls for the creation of regional Homeless Encampment Action Response Teams (HEART). Each HEART team would be a multidisciplinary teams to respond rapidly to encampments to prevent them from becoming entrenched, based on models used in Victoria and Seattle.

“To be effective, HEART teams need to be complemented by housing, shelter options and immediate coordinated supports,” the plan says. “(Homeless Encampment Action Response for Temporary Housing) HEARTH will increase decampment support funding and seek to enhance fire prevention, safety, and other supports and to acquire rapid deployment housing and shelter spaces.”

In addition, the province aims to improve coordination across agencies, including Indigenous communities.

“Encampment responses include complex land management, social and legal coordination issues, as well as emergency response planning,” the plan. “Additional investments will ensure improved and more timely responses.”

The plan also calls for the creation of 3,900 additional supportive housing units for people experiencing homelessness and 240 complex care housing units at roughly 12 locations across B.C. for people with “more complex mental health and addictions challenges.”