The B.C. government and the City of Vancouver will open four additional temporary winter shelters in Vancouver to meet the needs of those living on the streets during the cold and wet weather season.
"This agreement with the City represents our mutual commitment to help end street homelessness in our cities," said Premier Christy Clark. "These accommodations will go a long way towards getting people off the streets and into more permanent housing. This will allow us to connect people with the support services they need so they can begin making positive changes in their lives."
These shelters will provide over 160 spaces for the homeless between the end of November 2012 and May 2013. Raincity Housing and Support Society will operate and provide supports at the shelters and link people to housing and community based support services.
"Shelter is the single most urgent need for citizens who are homeless during the cold and wet months of winter, especially for those who live with disabilities, addiction or mental health challenges," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. "This initiative will help more people in need connect with crucial support services and begin a journey out of homelessness. These new shelter spaces reflect our firm conviction that no one should ever be forced to sleep on the street and our commitment to ending street homelessness by 2015."
The Province will provide up to $1.6 million in funding to operate the shelter spaces and the City will identify and provide the sites.
The B.C. government has also agreed to make funding available for 100 transition housing spaces in Vancouver that will operate for approximately 18 months while the balance of the 14 new supportive housing developments are completed. Seven of the developments are currently open. The remainder are under construction or in development. The City will provide the sites for the transition spaces.
There are 638 permanent, year-round shelter beds and approximately 200 temporary year-round HEAT shelter beds in Vancouver.
For the last three years, the government of B.C. has opened approximately 160 additional 24/7 shelter spaces in the city for the cold winter months in addition to Extreme Weather Response spaces that are available when an extreme weather alert is activated by the community. The B.C. government spends close to $24 million annually to fund services for Vancouver's homeless. This includes permanent and temporary shelters as well as homeless outreach.
- Since launching the provincial housing strategy, Housing Matters BC, in 2006 more than 12,000 people have been helped to move off the streets and into permanent housing.
- Last fiscal year, approximately $80 million was provided to ensure that emergency shelters are available in communities throughout B.C. This includes permanent, year-round shelter beds as well as extreme weather and temporary shelter spaces.
- There are now more than 1,600 permanent year-round shelter beds in 33 communities - almost double the approximately 880 that existed in 2001.
- Funding increases since 2007 mean that most shelters are now open 24/7 - people no longer have to line up at night - they can remain safe and stable while being connected to community services including more permanent forms of housing. Ninety-five per cent of shelters also provide three meals a day.
- During the cold winter months, the B.C. government funds additional shelter spaces to ensure everyone has access to a safe, warm place at night. This past winter, more than 1,300 spaces were identified in 35 communities across British Columbia through our Extreme Weather Response program. The extreme weather shelter spaces are activated when an Extreme Weather Alert is issued the community.
To learn more about provincial programs and services to address homelessness, visit: www.bchousing.org
To learn more about programs and services offered by the City of Vancouver, please visit: www.vancouver.ca
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