MORE people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver, including those sleeping at Strathcona Park, will soon have access to a safe, warm and secure place to stay with 24-7 support, the Province announced on Monday.
“We need to get people inside into dignified, supportive shelter as quickly as possible to prevent death or serious injury for those trying to stay warm outside this winter,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “These new shelter spaces will provide 120 people with a bed and supports to help them stay safe, warm, fed and alive, while we continue to work with our partners to open permanent supportive housing across the city. This is part of our response to Strathcona, but there will be more to come. I am very grateful to everyone in Vancouver for pulling together to address this ongoing and unacceptable crisis in our city.”
The Province, in partnership with the City of Vancouver, will open two new temporary shelters that will offer a total of 120 beds. Securing, preparing and staffing these facilities is a significant step toward meeting the Province and City of Vancouver’s goal of having enough indoor spaces available to decamp Strathcona Park. The shelters will be located at:
* 875 Terminal Avenue – 60-bed shelter to open in April
* 15-27 West Hastings Street – 60-bed shelter to open at the end of April
Experienced non-profit housing providers will be selected to operate the shelters. Staff will be on site 24-7 to support shelter guests. They will provide daily healthy meals, access to laundry and showers, assistance filling out housing application forms, as well as referral to community and health services, if needed.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our most marginalized neighbours, and collective action is needed to address the critical needs of people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “The new shelters announced today demonstrate that with deep co-operation between all three levels of government, we can provide warm, safe beds for hundreds of residents and connect them to services and programs to support their well-being.”
In addition to these two new sites, the Province is also funding 30 new rental supplements that will be available for people who require fewer support services and can move from supportive housing into private rental properties. This will help free up spaces in supportive housing buildings, enabling shelter guests to move into those vacant units.
The Province, through BC Housing, will provide operating funding for the shelters. Final amounts will be confirmed as operational models are finalized for each site.
The property on Terminal Avenue is owned by the City of Vancouver. A $1.8-million grant provided by the federal government through Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy is funding renovations of the property. Renovations will also take place at the West Hastings site, which is being co-leased by BC Housing and the city. Once work is complete, both shelters will be available to people who are experiencing homelessness in the community.
Since 2017, the Province has opened 1,000 new supportive housing homes – all are occupied. Approximately 100 temporary supportive homes are set to open this summer and 350 more homes are being proposed in multiple locations throughout the city.
Recognizing a need for even more supportive housing, the Province continues to work with the City of Vancouver and community partners to secure new temporary and permanent supportive housing sites. The city and the Province will update the public once new sites are confirmed.
Ahmed Hussen, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, said: “No one should be without a place to stay, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Through our investments under Reaching Home, our government is committed to ensuring that the homelessness sector in Vancouver has the tools that it needs to support those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. These shelters will go a long way to support the members of the community that need it most.”
Melanie Mark, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, added: “People deserve to have a safe and secure place to stay. These new shelters will mean that more community members can come inside and access the services they need and deserve. I am encouraged to see government and partners working together to open these vitally important spaces. This is a step forward in the right direction as we seek to address the ongoing crisis at Strathcona Park.”