One of the best ways to address homelessness is to prevent people from experiencing it in the first place. Helping an individual or family at risk of homelessness maintain their existing housing places less strain on their health and well being and is vastly more cost effective for the system at large.
That is why the Coalition is so excited by the Victoria Foundation‘s generous donation to the Homelessness Prevention Fund (HPF). The HPF is a very simple concept. It is rooted in the knowledge that when someone is experiencing poverty, it’s surprising how little it can take to push them over the edge into homelessness.
Something like the loss of a roommate, job loss, a health crisis or the gap in funding before employment insurance kicks in seem like an insurmountable mountain if you are living on the edge. Any one of these could cause someone’s life to spiral out of control. That is where the HPF comes in. It provides a small injection of funds to help the individual or family get past whatever the crisis may be.
A family or individual who is at risk of losing their housing due to this kind of temporary crisis can apply with one of our partner agencies for a one time grant of up to $500. This will help them get past the crisis, maintain their housing and not lapse in the desperate straits of homelessness.
The HPF is not a big fund. It distributes less than $5,000 per month and never more than $500 to an individual. Yet it is so effective. Nearly 350 individuals or families have received the grant since 2011 and our data shows that the vast majority of them are able to retain their housing. This represents extraordinary savings for the system, but more importantly it has allowed these individuals and families to maintain the security of a home and all the health benefits that go with that.
This latest gift will allow the fund to operate for another two years and we are grateful to receive it.
– Andrew Wynn-Williams, Executive Director at the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness