New Emergency Winter Shelter to Open in Mt. Pleasant
A new emergency winter shelter will be opening tonight in the Mt Pleasant neighbourhood, providing a warm place to sleep at night for up to 40 homeless people until April 30, 2010.
Located at 677 East Broadway, the temporary shelter will be open 24 hours a day, and will provide two meals on a daily basis. It is being funded through a $1.2 million contribution from the Province along with $500,000 from the City for four emergency shelters in Vancouver this winter. Mt Pleasant is identified as a neighbourhood that lacks shelter services and has a substantial homeless population.
“With the winter weather setting in, new emergency shelters like this one are crucial to ensuring that people living on the streets have a safe, warm place to sleep at night,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Shelters around the City are at capacity and there is a significant homeless population in Mt Pleasant. This shelter will make sure they have a safe place to go.”
“The $1.2 million in provincial funding will help to address the immediate need to provide safe, secure spaces for homeless individuals to take shelter during the worst of the winter months,” said Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing and Social Development. “By locating the shelters outside of the downtown core we hope to encourage more homeless people to seek shelter and get access to the services they need."
The Mt Pleasant shelter will be operated by RainCity Housing, who have operated housing and shelter for people throughout the Lower Mainland since 1982.
The facility will be low barrier, meaning that residents will be allowed to bring shopping carts and pets with them. A reservation system will be in place to reduce the need for line-ups, and adequate access to washroom facilities will be in place.
Reducing the barriers for people accessing shelters was a key recommendation from the Coroner’s Report into the death of Dawn Bergman on December 18, 2008.
"This is an opportunity to address homelessness and engage in dialogue with the community to determine the best solutions to this city wide crisis," said Mark Smith, Executive Director of RainCity Housing. "We recognize the importance of open communication and its role in being part of a community."
The Vancouver Police Department has worked proactively with the City to address homelessness, mental illness and street disorder issues in Vancouver.
"The Vancouver Police Department has seen very positive outcomes since the opening of the HEAT shelters, with the most notable benefits occurring within marginalized neighbourhoods. These positive outcomes include the reduction of street disorder and calls involving the mentally ill, particularly at night. The VPD supports all other initiatives to try and provide shelter for homeless people in our city," said VPD Chief Constable Jim Chu.
The Mt Pleasant emergency winter shelter will operate until April 30, 2010.