The SOS Homeless Prevention Program has housed 44 people since it started in 2015, including the subject of this article. — Submitted iStock photo

SOS program gives people a place to call home

Homeless prevention program helps house people in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Before he secured a home, Kinkade* didn’t have the luxury of doing things he enjoyed. Life was about surviving from day to day, and trying to secure accommodation.

“I was living on the kindness of others for a year, just trying to find a place, but all were out of reach monetarily,” he said. “I wasn’t able to sustain an apartment because of the cost.”

He had learned about assistance through BC Housing, but the process of applying was very confusing, he said. Then he heard about the SOS Homeless Prevention Program.

As SOS celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, it will shed light on different programs each month. The focus in January was the Homeless Prevention Program (HPP), which is a partnership with BC Housing, and focuses on ending, as well as preventing, homelessness in the region. Clients who are at immediate risk of homelessness, and who fit the program criteria set out by BC Housing, receive short-term assistance in order to secure housing, as well as support to maintain housing and work toward financial independence.

Kinkade said the help he received through the program, and from SOS co-ordinator Greta Hogan, was invaluable.

“I met with her and she had official forms for BC housing and she helped demystify the volume of details that I wasn’t sure about,” he said. She also told him that he would qualify for a rental supplement, which came as a huge relief.

“It was frightening because in my situation; I’m on disability and I don’t have the funds for a regular rental situation,” he said.

Kinkade said he was very excited when HPP found him a small, local rental unit, but was still anxious about whether he would be able to afford some basic necessities, such as food, a broom and a mop. His worries were put to rest when the program provided Kinkade with start-up funds to get the basic necessities he required.

He is now settled into his home and, thanks to the assistance and support he continues to receive, is able to concentrate on healing wounds that he has been carrying for many years. He can now concentrate his energy on things he enjoys, he said.

“I’m an artist, so now I can focus on my art without worries and concerns hovering over, which makes it almost impossible at times to even have the luxury of being able to be creative,” he said. “I have enough to get by each month, so now I am actually able to think about new ideas as opposed to ideas of how am I going to survive?”

To date, the program has housed 44 local residents.

Hogan said the HPP relies heavily on partnerships with local landlords, those who understand the local housing crisis and who are willing to work with Hogan and the clients.

“It’s very important that we find safe, secure, affordable places for our clients, and that the landlords are trustworthy and fair,” Horgan said. “I’m currently working with a small number of fantastic and reliable local landlords, but we are desperately looking for more property owners to connect with.”

The target client group who can access the SOS Homeless Prevention Program includes people leaving the corrections and hospital system, women who have experienced violence or are at risk of violence, youth (less than 24 years old) including those leaving the care system, and people of Aboriginal descent.

For more information on the SOS Homeless Prevention Program, please visit www.sosd69.com or call SOS at 250-248-2093.

*Kinkade’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

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