At Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (Habitat VIN), we know that when charities work together, their impact and influence becomes more powerful. At the 2018 Habitat for Humanity Canada AGM in Niagara Falls, we were honoured to be recognized with the Sustainable Funding Award for our partnership with the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, a collective of local housing nonprofits who work together to “plan, coordinate, recommend and implement community responses to homelessness.”
In 2015, the Coalition worked together with the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) and the Town of Comox to pass an innovative referendum that introduced a new service tax to provide a consistent source of funding for all Coalition members. As a result, the CVRD established the Homelessness Supports Service Fund, for which the Coalition now makes recommendations towards.
“At first we weren’t sure how Habitat would fit into a coalition with the goal to end homelessness,” explained Pat McKenna, executive director for Habitat VIN. “We partner with lower-income working families who help to build and then buy their own homes. However, we have to recognize the interconnectedness of the housing continuum. Habitat bridges that gap between social/rental housing and market housing.”
This year, Habitat VIN received $75,000 in funding through this initiative. Other Comox Valley nonprofits, such as the Comox Valley Transition Society, the Wachiay Friendship Centre, and the John Howard Society, benefited from the tax as well.
We have also recently joined the Campbell River Homelessness Coalition, a collective doing similar work in Campbell River.
“Homelessness and lack of affordable housing are two huge issues that impact our entire community. The only way we can make significant progress is through collaboration,” said McKenna. “One nonprofit cannot serve every demographic, but there is strength in numbers, and by working together and advocating with ‘one voice’ we can help to ensure that nobody in our community is left behind.”