Housing First Project Aimed at Ending Homelessness

Salt Spring Island is poised to develop a plan aimed at addressing mental health, 
addictions and homelessness with a new Salt Spring 
Community Services initiative.

Federal funding is allowing them to initiate a ‘Housing First’ approach, 
increasingly recognized as a successful approach in combating the problems.  A 
‘Housing First’ model puts homeless people into housing first, and then connects 
them with the support services that helps them address the barriers to living 

“We’ve got funding for a pilot project slated to last nine months” said Rob Grant, 
Executive Director of Salt Spring Island Community Services. “That will get us to 
the stage of getting the program developed and started and then we’ll move on to 
full implementation once we secure more funding”.

Communities across the continent have begun to echo the approach with both 
Vancouver and Victoria adopting ‘housing first’ policies with the proven outcome 
of a more cost-effective and efficient way to treat homelessness and the issues 
causing it.

The funding comes as a result of the Federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy, 
which is intended to provide housing units with 
support services for the highest needs homeless people that frequent shelters.  By 
providing the supports that people need, they prevent people from cycling back 
into homelessness.

Salt Spring Island Community Services has seen a steady increase in 
the use of the overnight emergency shelter. The shelter has a capacity of 20 
people per night, and is at maximum use most nights from November to March. 
The island registered the second highest per capita rate of homelessness in the 
last count of 2009. Food bank usage on the island has grown 65% between 2013 
and 2014 indicating a growing problem with poverty and homelessness on the 

SSI Community Services has hired Carol Barteaux to coordinate the Housing First 
pilot project. “The evidence is there to show that this works,” said Barteaux,
who has experience with the approach in Vancouver. “Putting people into homes 
removes a significant barrier to recovery from other issues which are contributing 
to homelessness. It breaks the cycle.”