Vancouver-based RainCity hoping to resolve Tri-Cities homeless numbers
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
RainCity Housing is introducing a Coquitlam-based homeless shelter located at 3030 Gordon Avenue. The shelter will be the first housing project of its kind in the city.
The purpose-built “3030 Gordon Project” has been in development since December 2011, and has been under construction since last year.
“The land was donated by the city of Coquitlam,” said RainCity’s associate director Sean Spear, “it’s a BC-funded project.”
Spear stated that the shelter will house “30 individual units” of living space, “30 transitional suites” for those who may need a few years to progress, and “30 units available during extreme weather.”
The building’s design is meant to incorporate “everything that we’ve known from running different facilities. So it’s going to have a large space on the ground floor, three more storeys of the suites and the shelter units, a back yard area, and a bunch of different utilities including a full service kitchen and 24-hour staffing.
“There’s support in terms of basically helping people get off the street, and then stabilizing and hopefully getting them into either the transition units we have, or some other form of housing to stop the cycle of homelessness for the folks that are in the Tri-Cities area.”
Spear added that the community has responded very well but a homeless issue still exists and therefore, the living units of the 3030 Gordon shelter will have different requirements. Homeless outreach will be a factor in accessing several of the units.
“Typically there’s referrals from other organizations so workers will bring folks to us. People can self-referral, and in terms of priority, some of it is on a first-come, first-serve basis for the emergency shelter.
“The transition suites will be a more rigorous process in terms of who gets into the transition suites and depending on their needs and their issues. We typically do focus on folks with the highest needs, the most barriers in their life.”
Spear referred to the 3030 Gordon housing project as “lower barrier,” which means that those who may have not been able to get into high priority shelters have a chance of using RainCity’s Coquitlam shelter.
The shelter will also differ from others in that a shopping cart lockup will be available to those staying in the shelter, and in both the shelter and housing, people will have permission to bring in outside pets and belongings when settling in.
“In the past, what made it harder for folks or deterred them to come into housing was that they didn’t want to give up what belongings that they did have. It’s very much a Housing First type of model, that we just really want to get this person indoors, out of the cold, and then work on a plan with them to try and end that cycle for them. Many have been outdoors off and on for a number of years by the time they arrive to us.”
RainCity’s Coquitlam housing project is expected to open by November.