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Veterans' housing project to get federal funding

Aug 01 2012
Alice Wong, federal minister of state for seniors, was in Victoria to announce funds for veterans' homelessness projects — including Cockrell House in Colwood — on Tuesday.¬†

Alice Wong, federal minister of state for seniors, was in Victoria to announce funds for veterans' homelessness projects — including Cockrell House in Colwood — on Tuesday.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , timescolonist.com (August 2012)

The volunteers at Cockrell House have counted at least 50 homeless veterans around the capital region since 2008, but they know there are many more to be helped.

The Colwood facility, named for the late Lionel (Jack) Cockrell, is an 11-unit complex that works with veterans who need assistance to transition into civilian life.

The important role of Cockrell House was acknowledged Tuesday during a visit by Alice Wong, federal minister of state for seniors, who announced that it was one of four initiatives designated for funding as part of a pilot project for veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Cockrell House receives $258,800; the Calgary Homeless Foundation receives $539,547; the Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness in London, Ont., gets $304,948; and $405,789 goes to Mainstay Housing in Toronto. The total funding from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is more than $1.9 million, which will be combined with management, training and other assistance from Veterans Affairs Canada.

The pilot project is based on a successful British model in which a structured living environment, reminiscent of the military, was put in place for veterans.

Wong said it was an "unfortunate reality" that some veterans have problems that can lead to homelessness.

"No matter what the reason is, in 2012 there is absolutely no excuse for veterans who have served our country to be homeless, without shelter and deprived of their dignity," she said.

The funds coming to Cockrell House will be used for measures such as support services for veterans as they work to improve their lives, said Wong, who made her funding announcement at the Royal Canadian Legion's Trafalgar/Pro Patria Branch on Gorge Road East.

Dave Munro, who chairs the Cockrell House board, said the added funds would make a difference.

"This assistance now is going to ensure that we're going to be able to continue with this program for the foreseeable future," Munro said.

"On behalf of all the veterans that are on the street, hard-to-house and homeless, I want to thank [Wong] and your government."

He said the Legion and other veterans' groups have been strong backers of Cockrell House, as has Colwood council. The site is entirely volunteer-run.

"It isn't the six or seven of us that are working as directors," Munro said.

"There's a whole community that has made this a success."

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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