Saturday, December 3, 2016

Homelessness in Abbotsford

The progress in addressing homelessness often appears to be almost nonexistent. Any successes reached tend to be swallowed up by the ever-present, and growing challenges around homelessness. Some of the issues can "fly below the radar", while others confront us on a daily basis.

Abbotsford is fortunate to have a large number of service providers who expend large sums of money and direct large amounts of human resources in addressing homelessness. The City assists where it can and within the parameters of its mandate. 

Collectively, a significant number of initiatives have been completed, and more are in progress. Funding from the federal government has not been accessible to this point, however, that too may soon change. In the meantime, we continue to address the issue in a variety of ways. The following provides a list, albeit an incomplete list, of some of the achievements over the last 6 years, or so. 
Christine Lamb Residence, 2012  – 41 units of supportive housing for women and children who are at risk of homelessness. City land provided

George Schmidt Centre, 2013 – 30 units of supportive housing for men who are at risk of homelessness. City land provided

Gladys Housing Project, 2017 – 30 unit supportive-housing for homeless men. City land provided

Lynnhaven Society, 2013  – 64 units of furnished rental housing to seniors on very low income. City funds provided through DCC costs reduction

Elizabeth Fry Firth Residence – 22 units of transitional housing to women and women with children, helping them break cycles of addiction, poverty, and homelessness

Homelessness & Housing Coordinator, 2015– a new position created in the City, which has paid dividends in a very short time (through initiatives, planning, grants applied for which are bearing fruit now).

Mayor’s initiative to engage the faith community – first dialogue has just occurred, with more to follow in the new year. Providing opportunities for the wider faith community to become engaged in addressing gaps in the homelessness support system. Through this initiative, faith community stepped up and provided funds for Salvation Army kitchen to continue providing breakfasts through the winter.

Rental Connect – new initiative, engaging the faith community, in identifying rental options and support for landlords willing to accommodate those who are either homeless or in danger of homelessness. This is supported by a generous grant from the federal government, as a result of City staff efforts.

Emergency Shelter on Riverside Rd., 2015 – 40 bed emergency shelter with supportive care; (City provided land and capital costs to get it operational); lobbied gov’t to extend funding to keep it open through this last summer.

Dignity Village – in limbo; waiting on proponents to respond to City staff’s requests for important details. (No guarantee this will get Council approval, if and when the proponent meets his requirements.)

Collaborative Road-Mapping - approach that engaged all interested community stakeholders in designing a strategy to prevent and respond to homelessness in Abbotsford. Pieces of this strategy are being initiated now, and more will follow. A very significant amount of federal funding is dependent on doing this well, and we are led to believe that funding is imminent. (significant staff time invested)

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