The Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness is an informal collaboration of, currently 15 organizations that has built an impressive record over the last ten years. It is not a legal entity so it does not hold any funds. Instead, funding opportunities that fit our mission and purpose are discussed and funding applications are made by the most appropriate non-profit society.
This is a rare and productive collaborative format decided on by the founding agencies. The decision to work together for funding opportunities reduces competition, increasing trust among the agencies and increasing the success of applications. To ensure accountability, awarded funds are held by the successful non-profit society on behalf of the Task Force.
The Society of Organized Services (SOS) was awarded a grant to hire a Task Force Coordinator in 2012 to do a Needs Assessment and develop community collaboration around homelessness. A detailed report and public presentation was done, covering all aspects of homelessness, including access to food, housing, health care, transportation and emergency services. Service gaps were identified and potential solutions suggested. This information was critical to changing the community conversation around homelessness.
Information is incredibly important when trying to address homeless issues. With this in mind, the Task Force provided the funding and many of the volunteers for Point-in-Time homeless counts. While a Point-in-Time count is only a snapshot of homelessness, it helps point efforts in the right direction.
The Task Force is also an important forum for local organizations and elected officials to coordinate services, information and events. The Task Force aims to keep the most up-to-date information available for to clients and helps distribute other relevant information.
Working toward long-term solutions, the Task Force has initiated a number of successful projects that member organizations have run with, including bringing a Cold Weather Shelter to the community and supplementing the BC Housing funding required to operate it.
Another Task Force initiative, the annual Project Connect Health Fair, has connected 100’s of homeless or at-risk individuals to much needed health and wellness services, including vision exams, glasses, haircuts, nurses, hearing exams, food, clothing and much more.
The Task Force developed Homelessness Outreach Support Team (HOST), is an inter-agency team working to help the most vulnerable in the community to access and maintain housing. By early 2020 HOST had housed more than 30 people cumulatively and leads the selection of residents for Orca Place – a 52 unit supportive housing project that opened in Parksville in 2019.