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Housing initiative gets homeless people off the streets

By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter

They don’t call it RainCity for nothing—that is when it comes to RainCity Housing, a charitable organization devoted to supporting and providing ongoing housing needs for individuals struggling with addictions, mental illnesses, or other challenges.

Recently, the Vancouver-based charity was able to put their numbers into perspective with just under a year since opening their Coquitlam location, 3030 Gordon Ave, last December. According to data from the operation facility, a substantial amount of tenants in the homeless shelter have been able to find permanent housing or move on to treatments and detox.

RainCity shared with the Tri-City News that of the 120 people that came through the doors of the Coquitlam shelter, 25 per cent were able to move onto treatment/detox, 23 per cent were able to find permanent housing, 20 per cent had moved onto supportive housing within the facility, 12 per cent had been supported and taken in by family members, and 8 per cent had moved onto another shelter. Unfortunately, the charity hasn’t heard back from 12 per cent, but do know that 3 per cent have ended up in jail. After the numbers have been crunched, 23 per cent of the 120 people remain unable to find a permanent housing situation.

Bill Briscall, RainCity’s communication manager, shared his outlooks on the data to the Tri-City News.

“We are happy with the outcomes. Over half the people are getting into housing, which is great given the shortage of housing,” he said.

A few weeks ago, emergency beds were occupied by 15 people who showed up at the doors of 3030 Gordon Ave after warnings had been issued regarding a three-day storm hitting Metro Vancouver. While the 30 separate rooms and 30 apartments are usually full at RainCity, luckily no one had to be turned away. Sandy Burpee, emergency response organizer, pointed out to the Tri-City News that the numbers that turned up for the shelter don’t accurately reflect the amount of homeless in the area. In addition, Burpee said that some actively choose not to go inside facilities. Many RainCity organizers suggest it may be due to age and the amount of time homeless.

“For those who have been homeless many years, it is hard to get them into a shelter,” said Briscall to the Tri-City News.

“Those folks that were homeless the smallest amount of time get housed faster because they are going through a different experience.”

According to the data from the shelter, three per cent have been homeless for more than 10 years and another three per cent have been homeless for 5–10 years. The numbers jump when taking a look at a smaller timeline with 15 per cent landing in the 2–5  year range and 17 per cent being homeless for only 1–2  years.

In the past six months of operation, 3030 Gordon has recorded 43 of 68 people in the housing shelter were homeless for less than a year, with 23 for less than a month, and 15 for less than a week. Burpee hopes to begin hiring staff for the emergency response team in early November, as weather predictions look dire for the winter ahead.