More shelter spaces, new interim housing opening in Vancouver

The B.C. government and the City of Vancouver are opening additional winter emergency shelter spaces and adding more long-term housing supports for people who are homeless.

Two temporary winter shelters, operated by Rain City Housing, will offer 75 additional spaces for the homeless between early December and April 30, 2014. The Province will provide funding to operate the shelters and outreach services; the City of Vancouver will provide the buildings at 862 Richards St. & 21 E. 5th Avenue and lead community awareness for the sites.

"Our winter response shelters are a proven program to help our most vulnerable citizen's transition into stable, permanent housing,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “By providing two daily meals, a warm place to sleep and connecting residents with outreach workers, these shelters have a positive impact in changing people's lives. Our partnership with the Province continues to deliver results as we work towards ensuring no one has to be homeless in Vancouver."

Over the last five years, almost 500 people have transitioned from the Winter Response shelters into permanent housing.

The Province will also provide up to $300,000 to Carnegie Outreach Services for 40 rent supplements and support services to help people who are homeless access housing in the private market.

"This year we added new options to our winter response strategy in Vancouver,” said Minister Rich Coleman, Minister responsible for Housing. “With the addition of 75 shelter spaces, outreach teams and rent assistance we can meet a greater range of needs in the community. These options supplement the permanent year-round spaces and new supportive housing we have opened in Vancouver and provide a bridge while we complete the remaining supportive housing sites we are building in the city."

To further help people transition from shelters into housing, the City has purchased the former Ramada Inn Hotel on East Hastings and will re-open it as 40 units of interim housing. Tenants will come from Vancouver shelters, to ensure more spaces are available for those in need. The Province will contribute $100,000 to this program, which will operate until fall 2014 when more new supportive housing units are open.

There are currently more than 840 permanent, year-round shelter beds and approximately 200 temporary year-round HEAT shelter beds in Vancouver.
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UPDATE: Both temporary winter shelters are now at full capacity, and your help is needed in these persistent cold weather conditions -- Donations can be made at either temporary winter response shelter (862 Richards St. or 21 E. 5th Avenue), but more staff are available to receive donations at the Triage Shelter at 707 Powell. You can also find RainCity Housing online, at http://www.raincityhousing.org/