Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lower Mainland - Day Three Burnaby and Vancouver

Our first meeting today was with the RCMP in the Burnaby Douglas area. The Burnaby Task Force on homelessness is fortunate to have the committed and compassionate leadership of Staff Sergeant John Buis. He told us about the support services that have increasingly become available for homeless people because of increasing coordination and especially with the increased participation of the faith community. The Staff Sergeant indicated that homelessness had become more visible and probably has increased.

A number of people at the Southside Church drop-in alerted us to the problem of landlords doing credit checks on prospective tenants. This is completely unfair because homeless people can never be successful on credit checks.

At Broadway Youth Centre we heard about the problems youth (under 19) have in finding homes. Many don't have families to fall back on when they meet inevitable problems. Landlords often discriminate against young tenants. The youth centre tries to deal with this by renting the units themselves and providing ongoing support and assistance to the youth and liaison with the landlord.

At Luma Native Housing Society -- echoing what we heard yesterday at the Front Door in Surrey -- we heard about the need for more barrier free resources. They called for services that follow the client through the range of supported housing that's necessary for success. Most important, they demanded the Provincial Government have a public and explicit Homelessness Program and commitment to end homelessness.

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