Vision Vancouver councillor introduces motion calling on province to fund emergency shelters this winter
Vision Vancouver Councillor Kerry Jang will move a motion at City Council next week calling on the Provincial Government to provide ongoing funding for the City’s HEAT shelters, reinforcing the governing party’s commitment to ensuring no one has to sleep outside at night in Vancouver.
“Since we were elected and first opened these low-barrier shelters in 2008, they have been critical to ensuring people on the street have access not just to a place to stay as the weather gets colder, but also that they have access to contact with services that can help them get off the street permanently,” says Jang.
“Low barrier” shelters allow pets and safe storing of personal belongings, along with access to meals as well as primary health and mental health assistance. Last winter, shelters were opened in the West End, Kits, False Creek, and Mt Pleasant, along with ongoing shelters at 201 Central, the Stanley New Fountain and First United Church.
Since first opening, the shelters have helped make a significant contribution to the reduction of street homelessness in Vancouver, from 811 people in 2008 to 145 in 2011 – an 82% reduction in three years.
At the Stanley New Fountain alone, over 300 people have moved through the shelter into permanent housing.
“The City is committed to providing the space for HEAT shelters, but we need the Provincial Government to again step up to provide funding for the services that have made them invaluable in the fight to take care of our city’s most vulnerable citizens,” says Jang.
“We’ve had a strong partnership with the Provincial Government and Housing Minister Rich Coleman, who has made significant investments in new shelters and housing in Vancouver and throughout the province. It’s our hope that this good work will continue this winter.
“As the temperature drops, we want to ensure no one is left to suffer alone on our streets. This has been a priority for Vision Vancouver since day one, and we will continue to work with the Province to ensure these needs are met.”
The motion will go before Council on Tuesday October 18th, and Councillor Jang hopes it will receive unanimous support.
“These are life and death matters, and hopefully everybody will be able to support this motion. I hope we can get the Province to move quickly so we can get these shelters opened as soon as possible.”