Canada's National Housing Day

Across Canada, November 22nd marks National Housing Day. This day raises awareness about the affordable housing and homelessness crisis impacting hundreds of thousands of families and residents in communities across our country.

COVID-19 Impact on Housing

Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, raising awareness about National Housing Day is even more vital this year. COVID-19 continues to deepen the toll on Canada’s housing system, increasing poverty and homelessness. Vancouver Island is no stranger to this crisis, with housing prices increasing upwards of 25% to 30% in many communities and demand on social services and local service providers pushing them beyond capacity.

This year we recognize the impacts of COVID-19 continue to deepen the toll on Canada’s housing system and further expose gaps that contribute to lack of housing and homelessness across the country. This is apparent in the Central and Northern Vancouver Island regions, and we know that there is work to do.

To combat the impacts of COVID-19, UWBC received $2,175,222 in funding through the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy this past year for Cowichan, Duncan, and Nanaimo to help prevent at-risk Canadians from facing homelessness.

To ensure the funding reached those most in need quickly, United Way worked with a network of local service providers and the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition Community Advisory Board to distribute the funds. This funding has helped keep essential services and programs operating during the pandemic, however, more work and investments are needed to create affordable housing and to combat homelessness.

Make your Voice Heard

Housing advocates, stakeholders, residents, and communities are encouraged to help spread the word about National Housing Day by using #NationalHousingDay.  Share in this meaningful action that you can take this National Housing Day to help contribute to ending homelessness. Let’s work together.

Learn more about National Housing Day HERE

UWBC’s Local Investments

The Government of Canada's Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy, is a federal program that aims to prevent and reduce homelessness.

The United Way British Columbia distributes Reaching Home program funds and provides administrative support to Community Advisory Boards in our local communities.

Reaching Home provides funding locally to the city of Nanaimo, the city of Duncan, and the Cowichan region, and puts decision-making in the hands of local stakeholders and service providers. 

United Way British Columbia invests funds in essential programs to help those struggling to make ends meet, assisting with access to basic needs such as shelter, food, and clothing, as well as several initiatives that tackle the systemic issues underlying poverty in our communities. Investing in programs that meet basic needs is one of the first steps to breaking the cycle of poverty and helping to support people in crisis.

Some of the services funded by Reaching Home include:

  • providing housing
  • helping individuals keep homes thereby preventing homelessness
  • connecting people in need to medical supports, or helping them apply to resources like employment insurance
  • assisting programs to adapt to new health requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as suppling masks, hand sanitizer and temporary housing to isolate.

Cowichan Housing AssociationThe Mound

A federal grant of $310,000 from the Reaching Home Program paid for the installation and construction of 39 sleeping cabins. These eight-by-eight sleeping cabins replaced temporary tents. The cabins are insulated and have baseboard heating and will keep individuals sheltered from the elements and have a safe place to sleep.

Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre - Indigenous Housing Navigator

Tillicum Lelum’s Indigenous Housing Navigator, Holly helps with everything from housing loss prevention, working with landlords to connect tenants and keep relationship positive. She helps navigate the rental market, find emergency housing, apply for rental subsidies, and more.

“I’ve helped with emergency housing for 32 (families) and I’ve been able to do housing loss prevention for 114 (families),” says Holly, adding that she is proud of those numbers. “Housing anybody is a success.”

Nanaimo Salvation Army - Fresh Start Program

The Salvation Army’s Fresh Start program offers stages of sober housing that gave individuals time and stability to become independent again with responsibilities growing at each stage.

With the support of United Way British Columbia, and funding from the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, the Salvation Army in Nanaimo is able to run the Fresh Start program.

Nanaimo John Howard Society - Housing First

Every person deserves a home regardless of where they have come from or what challenges they have faced.

That’s the main principle behind the John Howard Society’s Housing First program, which aims to reduce homelessness by helping people secure housing in Nanaimo.

The United Way British Columbia-funded Housing First program at the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society, works with landlords, property management groups, even people with a basement for rent, to find their clients a home in what is referred to as scattered-site housing. This model can be very beneficial for people to find housing near services needed, or specific areas and sometimes with less stigma.


United Way British Columbia is proud to be a part of initiatives that support our most vulnerable residents. Our investment in programs like these has impacted the lives of many, but there is so much more work to be done. With support from donors like you, we can continue to change lives.

Please donate to United Way British Columbia today.