Earlier this month The Village housing site run by Lookout Housing at 610 trunk road was given an extension to its temporary use permit.
The council voted unanimously to extend the permit for 18th months, which would keep the site operating until November 2024.
Site manager Dean Bergstrom says “City council voting unanimously, we were very surprised and very excited. Being granted 18 months, we’re hopeful that the future of the site is a little more secure.”
He says that some of the most encouraging developments have been to the community perception of the site bolstered by outreach. “We noticed that the community is kinder, more compassionate towards our people, they’re seen working and taking advantage of the opportunity they’ve been given.”
Residents participate in hourly walks around a 150-metre radius that The Village is responsible for, picking up garbage and sharps. These walks are also a valuable source of statistics for The Village as they track how many people they encounter loitering, trespassing, or openly using substances.
The North Cowichan Duncan RCMP recently released crime stats that showed the overall crime rate in the two micro areas around The Village has dropped 18% after its opening.
Bergstrom also noted that individual outcomes have been very successful for the program with 88 percent of residents participating in peer work programs and one in five seeking addictions treatment.
But they couldn’t pull this off alone, Bergstrom says that The Village thrives from its partnerships with other organizations like Island Health, House of Friendship, and Cowichan Tribes.
Cowichan tribes have been a significant partner for The Village, helping culturally and spiritually but also providing donations like a shared laundry machine and dryer for the site and new doors.
When compared to a group shelter Bergstrom says that while he can’t disclose specific costs, he is certain that The Villages is more cost-effective than any other housing model out there.