Metro Vancouver communities are banding together and creating a Regional Homelessness Task Force.
The goal: stem the growing tide of tent cities and homelessness across the region.
“You know, I’m really concerned about the youth,” says Task Force co-chair Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.
She says an overall strategy is needed, it’s not just a matter of more shelter space, as not everyone wants to be in a shelter, especially where barriers exist.
“Pets and belongings. Things like that, that people are very attached to on the street; they don’t want to come into a shelter that’s not going to allow them to have those things with them.
Read says she has a significant number of vulnerable people in her community.”
“A lot of our homeless people were severely addicted mentally ill; we have a lot of women and we have a lot of young people in our city.”
The Task Force attempt to get a firm estimate on the number of homeless people across the region, then seek help from the province.
Low-barrier winter shelter
Meanwhile, what used to be the Art Knapp store on Hornby Street in downtown Vancouver, is now a 24-hours winter homeless shelter.
The low-barrier shelter had 40 bed spaces and will accept couples and pets.
There is also a storage area for shopping carts outside.
Sean Spear with RainCity Housing says addicts will also be allowed to keep their drugs.
“We’re not confiscating, it’s not a barrier to access, but we will intervene with life-saving measures.”
— Jordan Armstrong (@jarmstrongbc) November 30, 2016
The shelter won’t have security but will have two staff present 24/7.
It is set to open on December 1, and will close no later than the end of April next year.