A Salvation Army shelter in Victoria is under scrutiny after footage was released showing the conditions of the 40-year-old building.
The transitional housing and shelter, located on Johnson St., has 147 beds. The videos, provided to Global News, show mold, ceilings peeling off due to humidity, and overall uncleanness.
Executive Director of the shelter, Brian Slous, admits the shelter needs some work but says repairs won’t be possible until March.
The Salvation Army fundraised nearly $200 million dollars last year, and $2 million of that money has been allocated for this project.
“The Salvation Army is providing shelter to people with mental health issues, with addiction issues, and they’re difficult places. And they’re not places where people would choose to be if they had another alternative. Including a tent, even in the winter. And that’s why people are camping out in the courthouse lawn,” said David Eby, housing spokesperson for the BC NDP.
“It’s hard to be too critical of the Salvation Army finding the funding for this out of their own donations. There’s no public money here,” added Eby.
Island Health is aware of the shelter conditions, but explains this is a different situation since the shelter is not managed by government
“Normally we would try to coordinate with other authorities who have some responsibility for housing, including building code inspectors from the city, and the fire department. Specifically, Island Health would look for potential environmental health hazards, such as uncapped needles in a common area, feces, etc. which could allow for the spread of infectious diseases. In this case, we will respond and follow up as appropriate,”they said in a statement.
Eby explains situations like this one showcase why it’s difficult to oversee shelters running on private donations.
“There’s all kinds of different obligations on shelter providers depending on who is providing the funding. If the shelter receives public funding from British Columbia, then they should be inspected and monitored by the government of British Columbia. If they are providing the shelter out of their own donations, then really, outside of building inspectors from the city of Victoria, there wouldn’t be any provincial obligations placed on them,” said Eby.
After seeing the video Eby said he can see why people would rather live in their own tent, and emphasizes the importance of coming up with a plan to combat homelessness.
“We don’t need these shelters if we have a government commitment to solve this problem,” he said.