VANCOUVER - The B.C. government is providing up to $1 million to keep the First United shelter open for an additional 12 months on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Funding that was scheduled to expire on July 31, 2012, will now be in place for the next year allowing extra time for clients remaining at the shelter to be connected to more permanent supportive housing units, including the new projects currently under development in Vancouver.
Fourteen new supportive housing developments being built in partnership with the City of Vancouver and non Profit housing providers will create more than 1,500 new apartments to help address homelessness. Over 400 of the new supportive housing units have opened in Vancouver since January 2011, and two more developments are scheduled to open later this year.
Since last June, almost 240 people have been housed through the government's partnership with First United and other non-profit housing providers.
While shelters are an important element of the provincial housing strategy, the government focuses on creating housing that helps people move off the streets permanently, targeting public funds where they can have the greatest impact.
Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Housing -
"We work closely with all our partners to make sure that we remain flexible and respond to the changing needs in the community. First United is a valued partner in our efforts to end homelessness and this funding extension will keep additional shelter space open in Vancouver while we bring more of our new supportive housing into service."
"We have already opened more than 400 supportive apartments in the City. More than 1,000 are still being created to help current shelter users and others in the community find appropriate housing and break the cycle of homelessness."
Mayor Gregor Robertson, City of Vancouver -
"Shelters like the First United demonstrate that important progress can be achieved to tackle homelessness when the community and different levels of government work together in partnership. First United is not only a critical resource as a shelter, but also as a means of helping people off the street and into permanent housing."
"The B.C. government's extension of funding enables us to reach more of Vancouver's homeless population and connect them with health, social and permanent housing supports that are so urgently needed."
Stephen Gray, co-executive director, First United -
"We are excited about our new agreement with the government. A concerted effort has been made to house people who have been regular users of our shelter program, and this funding will allow us to continue our efforts."
- The government of B.C. provides approximatley$17 million annually to make more than 1,300 shelter spaces available in the City of Vancouver. This includes over 600 permanent, year-round shelter beds in Vancouver.
- Funding increases since 2007, mean that most shelters are now open 24/7 so people no longer have to leave in the morning or line up at night. They can remain safe and stable while being connected to community services, including more permanent forms of housing.
- Last year, the government provided over $1.3 million in funding for homeless outreach in Vancouver so community agencies could connect people who are homeless with shelters, housing and support services.
- Between April and September, provincially funded shelter and outreach workers in Vancouver helped approximately 1,000 people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness connect with stable housing.
- In a partnership with the City of Vancouver, the government of B.C. has committed over $300 million to build more than 1,500 new supportive apartments.
- Supportive housing offers safe, affordable housing with services that connect people with the supports they need to stabilize and begin to rebuild their lives.
- Five developments, with 440 of the new units, are already open and the remaining projects are expected to be completed over the next two years.
For more information, please visit: www.bchousing.org