Friday, December 21, 2007

BC Homelessness Count

Over the last few weeks we have received feedback about our homelessness count. Some have been from communities who didn't originally have numbers and some from communities which have revised numbers. Below you will numbers for three communities. In the spring we will fully update the count and until then any new numbers that are brought to our attention will be posted on this blog.

100 Mile House-35 homeless, Source CMHA BC study
Lillooet-35 homeless, Source CMHA BC study
Campbell River-1,200 Source Sian Thomson Island Jade Society

Friday, December 7, 2007

Day 3-Courtenay

Our final day in Courtenay was spent on the street meeting and visiting with people who are homeless. It was an emotional and educational experience.

“I slept in a cardboard box with cardboard over me because I was cold. They don’t care.
Please, please, help us — we can’t take it no more — it’s killing us, literally.” Ruby Blair, Courenay, BC

When asked what the hardest part of being homeless is Gerry Mag paused and then said,

“The toughest part is tomorrow. You never know what’s going to go on tomorrow.”

It was an enlightening yet humbling end to the Vancouver Island portion of our consultion.

Day 3-Courtenay

8:00-10:30-Touring of homeless sites

Meeting with Aboriginal Leaders and stakeholders

Wachiay Friendship centre
Elders Lunch

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Day 2 Courtenay-Finding Our Way Home

Today we met with representatives of the regional districts and a number of service providers. Shawn Wilson from the Salvation Army highlighted the issue of the Washington Inn, which is a building with 111 units of affordable housing. Everyone else we spoke with also flagged this issue for us. Residents and service providers understand that the buildng is for sale and it is possible that these critically important apartments may disappear. We met with the owner who says that she would prefer that the government purchase the building so that the low rent units will be preserved. We are continuing to look into this issue as this could be the breaking point for an already serious problem of homelessness in the area. We will report developments in future posts.

Comox Strathcona Regional District Representatives
Meet with Vancouver Island Health Authority Addictions and Mental Health Workers

Salvation Army
Walking tour of Sally Ann and Washington Inn with Shawn Wilson

Tour of Lilli house Transitional House

Meeting with chair of Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society Chair of Dawn to Dusk and L’Arche (developmental disabilities)

Cirlce discussion with Courtenay Women’s Centre

Monday, December 3, 2007

Finding Our Way Home: 7/10 Club

Finding Our Way Home: New Hope Center

Excerpt of our first day at the New Hope Center in Nanaimo where Ray Philip talks to David about his hopes and fears.

Day 1 Nanaimo-Finding Our Way Home

Today in Nanaimo we met with people who are homeless, service providers and local government officials. Everybody agreed that the homelessness crisis in Nanaimo has gotten significantly worse over the last five years. Unanimously, people agreed that the most urgent need is for more affordable housing units. They reminded us that the crisis isn't only a Vancouver problem but affects the smaller centres as well. In fact as things get more difficult in Vancouver many people end up in Nanaimo and many of those become homeless. We heard a number of practical suggestions for improvement that will be part of David's report in the spring.

The most moving moments of the day came when we spoke with those who are actually homeless. Here we learned of the day to day hardships and challenges those who do not have a home face. We met a young couple in the Salvation Army who rented two rooms earlier this week only to find that their landlord took their money, left town and put their belongings on the sidewalk where many of them were stolen. Now they have no money, almost no clothes and are left with no where to live. This is not an isolated case. Tomorrow we travel to Courtenay.

Nanaimo Schedule

December 3rd

7:30 am
7/10 Club
at 285 Prideau Street,
Community Service Building Early morning breakfast Program

walk to Samaritan House chatting with some of those on the street

Samaritan House
Tour of Samaritan House

Salvation Army 19 nichol street
Lunch program with Ed Robertson of New Hope Center (part of Sally Ann)

Lunch and tour with Jim Spinelli-
Chair, BCNPHA / Executive Director, Nanaimo Affordable Housing
The Nanaimo Women's Centre
Tour and Meeting

2-3 pm
Salvation Army/New Hope Center
19 Nicol Street
Meet with staff to talk about needs of clients

Nanaimo City Hall
455 Wallace Street
Meeting with mayor and council