The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria and BC Rent Bank are launching a Rent Bank which will provide short term financial help for low-to-moderate income households at risk of losing their housing due to a temporary financial crisis. In conjunction with this the Community Council is also launching the Greater Victoria Housing Relief Security Fund, a one-time housing grant program between February and the end of April to provide eligible applicants with support for rent, essential utilities, and basic needs.
For more information on this program and to view eligibility requirements, please visit: https://communitycouncil.ca/rentbank/
Gender Balance in Entrepreneurship – What does that mean?
Gender balance in entrepreneurship means moving from ‘hero-preneurship’ to collaboration and away from hierarchy to scaling through adaptation or replication by others.
As we start to re-build into a green, diverse, and inclusive economy, limiting the barriers women and newcomer entrepreneurs face will be essential. Did you know that 15.7% of small and medium enterprises are owned by women, which makes up the bulk of Canada’s companies? Canada has made progress towards narrowing the gender gap but still sits at 19th place for developed economies and fell in 2019 (from 16th place in 2017). Did you also know that when male entrepreneurs make a pitch for funding, they receive funding 68% of the time? The same pitch, made by a woman – same words, same pitch – is only funded 32% of the time.
Our report: Financial Inclusion in the Green Economy (FIGE) sets sights on addressing inequalities between genders by identifying current and future barriers to financial inclusion for women in the green economy. This report was launched in response to local anecdotes from women entrepreneurs struggling to break into the green economy.
As quoted by Mikaila Montgomery in the Times Colonist– co-coordinator of the program:
“Victoria is in some ways a leader in gender equality — but there is always room for improvement. We still hear of stories of women entrepreneurs making a pitch for funding to start a business being declined — and advised to come back with a man.”
This project is just the beginning of the conversation. The council is working on phase 2 of the project and we are always looking to hear from individuals who have been challenged with these barriers. If you would like to get in touch, please reach out to Alisha Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Community Social Planning Council welcomes the new report from BC’s Representative for Children and Youth that puts a spotlight on youth transitioning out of care. In the 2020 Point in Time Homeless Count for the Capital Region, 1 in 3 of the people experiencing homelessness had been in foster care or government care. This number jumps to 55% for youth aged 16 to 24.
The importance of that transition as youth age out of care is clear – for the individuals we surveyed who had been in care, 30% experienced homelessness within one month of leaving care. Only 15% of those we surveyed felt that Child Protective Services were helpful with the transitioning to independence after leaving foster care.
Youth experiencing homelessness we surveyed asked for life skills and mental health supports. It is great to see the report focus on these areas, particularly since 70% of the youth we surveyed identified as living with mental health issues and homelessness. There is a dangerous convergence of gaps in the system for youth in care and gaps in our mental health and addictions services. The report outlines initial steps to address this but more is needed in both areas.
The higher risk for Indigenous youth is another key area needing focus as they are disproportionately represented in the foster care system and experience homelessness at higher rates. The report acknowledges the impacts of colonialism and importance of cultural connection but falls short of recommending action. Prevention is key. As the well-known Canadian Indigenous expert, Cindy Blackstock says, poverty underlies many of the health and wellness disparities affecting Indigenous children, youth and families – if it goes unaddressed very little progress will be made in closing the gap.
We applaud the report’s focus on filling the gaps for children aging out of care. However, there needs to be bigger focus on the broader economic disparities that put children and youth at risk: inequality, poverty, economic and job insecurity and lack of adequate, affordable housing. COVID has exposed those fault lines in our society and opened new opportunities to do better.
Diana Gibson, Executive Director of the council was approached by Chek News to provide a comment on the recent published report. Watch the full interview here.
The CSPC is giving a big SHOUT-OUT and THANK-YOU to BC Transit for donating reusable masks for the Community Council’s Low-Income Transit Assistance program.
On Thursday, November 19th, the BC government announced further restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to surge and the concern of community spread grows. Masks are now mandatory for public indoor places and thanks to BC Transit, we have a limited supply of reusable masks available for those agencies that have placed Low-Income Transit orders. Please contact our office if you would like to include this in your order or connect with Barry Hutchinson about masks when you come in to pick up your order.
We are always looking and accepting donations of disposable masks if anyone is able to help. If you have any extras, please contact us at email@example.com
Be Kind. Be Calm. Be Safe
– Dr. Bonnie Henry
The Community Social Planning Council is excited to announce that we are a finalist in this year’s City of Victoria’s Participatory Budgeting! This year’s Participatory Budgeting initiative is to support community projects benefiting new immigrants and refugees in Victoria. Our Project Active Inclusion in the Green Recovery does just that!
For more on this project and to cast your vote Click Here
In the early summer, the Times Colonist sat down with Mikaila Montgomery, research coordinator at the council and discussed our Financial Inclusion in the Green Economy project- a project that sets its sights on addressing inequalities between genders by identifying current and future barriers to financial inclusion for women in the green economy.
For more on this story, click here
April Lawrence from Chek News sat down with our senior researcher Margaret Forbes to discuss the findings from our recent published report Under Pressure: The rental housing experience of seniors living in James Bay, Victoria.
In the interview, April and Margaret highlight that Victoria’s James Bay neighbourhood has some of the highest rents in the city but also the highest number of seniors and it’s leading to a crisis.
James Bay New Horizons for Seniors Society, a neighbourhood community hub for seniors, approached CSPC prompted by increasing concerns they were hearing from seniors who were:
- struggling to pay high rents,
- had lost or were at risk of losing their housing due to renovation evictions, and
- struggling to find affordable housing.
The neighbourhood of James Bay in the City of Victoria has the highest population of seniors, many of them in rental housing. It also has some of the city’s highest average rents. To study this issue further, CSPC partnered with the New Horizons for Seniors Society and engaged with local seniors. Over 122 senior (55+) tenants in James Bay participated in a survey, and two focus groups were held with senior renters and senior service providers.
The final report from this study, Under Pressure: The Rental Housing Experience of Seniors Living in James Bay, profiles community housing and income data and brings forward seniors’ voices about their lived experiences in the tight rental market of James Bay.
The findings from this project painted a detailed picture of the rental housing market in James Bay and factors influencing the housing experience of seniors.
The connection and attachment seniors feel towards James Bay is very apparent and is primarily due to the senior-friendly neighbourhood amenities, which add to seniors’ social connectedness. According to literature, this sense of connection is essential to positive health and well-being outcomes for seniors.
The study reveals that low to moderate-income seniors in the rental housing market are facing a significant crisis of affordability, security of tenure, and rent stability, and senior renters voiced that they are struggling to stay in their current housing situations, yet feel that leaving is not a good option.
“[If I received notice to vacate my home], I would look for another place in James Bay, but I would be doing so in a confused panic state with severe anxiety. I do not have friends or family that I could stay with for a transition period” – Survey respondent
Not only is leaving the community undesirable and potentially harmful to older adults’ health and well-being, but seniors feel as if there is nowhere else for them to go. The 0.7% vacancy rate and ageing housing stock in the neighbourhood support the notion of these concerns. This lack of affordable and appropriate housing is also causing a palatable fear amongst seniors specific to the security of tenure, with renovictions and increased rents after renovations being their primary fears.
“I am concerned that the apartment rental we have found for March may not be long term. I have heard about [‘renovictions’]. This is a possibility as the building is older.” – Survey respondent
In 2016, 47% of tenants in James Bay were spending more than 30% of their income on shelter costs, placing them in core housing need. The average rent in James Bay increased by 20% between 2016 and 2020. Although there is a provincial rent cap limiting the maximum allowable rent increases to the rate of inflation, rent rates are still rising faster than fixed incomes and it does not address the escalation before the cap. Some seniors in the study report spending up to 60% of their income on housing. When asked about the impacts of a $25 monthly rent increase (the average that would be allowed under the maximum allowable rent cap), 65% of survey respondents said they would have to make cutbacks in their lives on things like social outings, groceries, medications, and transportation. Unfortunately, 39% have already made such cutbacks.
It is evident that the high rental costs in the neighbourhood are taxing the budgets of seniors, particularly because so many rely heavily on fixed incomes. While affordable housing is becoming increasingly recognized in policy across the city and country, there tends to be little focus on those living on fixed incomes, especially seniors. Provincial programs like Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) provide some support; however, these subsidies do not reflect the high market rents and available fixed incomes, nor do they address the significant affordability gap between the two.
According to BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA), an ageing population, combined with population growth, will account for much of the increase in rental housing demand in the region. BCNPHA indicates that by 2036, there will be a significant increase in the population over the age of 65, which will pressure in the James Bay neighbourhood for seniors in the rental market.
The report makes recommendations aimed at meeting the needs of seniors, including the development of affordable housing for seniors in the James Bay area, a seniors’ navigator to provide in-person housing support and assistance, and extending a local food security program while housing affordability is addressed.
As published in the Times Colonist, The Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria’s Executive Director Diana Gibson and Executive Director of Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness Kelly Roth commented on the regions Homelessness concerns.