City, BC Housing to partner on winter shelters for most vulnerable residents
The City of Vancouver and BC Housing are partnering to put in place up to four temporary homeless shelters this winter, as part of ongoing efforts to address homelessness and help vulnerable residents move into stable housing, the City's communication office says. The annual partnership was outlined at City Council today as part of a staff update on Homelessness Action Week, which runs October 13-19, a press release from the City notes, adding that:
“Our winter response shelters have been effective in helping people access safe, supportive housing, and transition into a stable home,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “I want to thank Minister Coleman for his ongoing commitment to supporting shelters and building new supportive housing, both in Vancouver and throughout the Province. These investments make a real difference and the City is proud to partner on such an important issue.”
The City and BC Housing are currently working on identifying locations for temporary homeless shelters, in areas of the City with homeless populations. These shelters will operate 24 hours a day and will be low-barrier, meaning they will allow pets and shopping carts with personal belongings inside. The shelters provide two warm meals a day and connect residents with health, social, and employment services.
As part of the Homelessness Action Week update, staff provided detailed information on the results of last March’s homeless count. The key findings include:
- A total of 273 people were counted sleeping outside at night, a decrease of 66 per cent, or 538 people, since 2008
- 1,327 people were using shelters
- 73 per cent of the homeless population was male
- The largest age group of people who are homeless is 35-54 years
- 30 per cent are Aboriginal
- 3 out of every 5 people surveyed reported having an addiction, and 46 per cent have a mental illness
The City is making substantial investments in affordable and supportive housing, including the purchase of the Kingsway Continental Hotel and the renovation of Taylor Manor and the Howard Johnson Hotel, to provide new low-income housing.
“There’s no question we have more to do to make sure that everyone in Vancouver has a home, and that those with mental illness or an addiction are getting the support and care they need,” said Mayor Robertson. “Shelters are not a solution by themselves, but they are an important bridge for helping our most vulnerable make the first step from the streets and into housing. I’m pleased we are continuing our winter response shelters and building on our partnership with BC Housing.”