Thank you for submitting your  ideas about ways community groups can work together to improve lives and solve homelessness!

Here are 12 great ideas that are underway across BC.

Broadway Youth Resource Centre Mural Project

In December 2005, Broadway Youth Resource Centre engaged its youth to create an arts and media gallery. For many youth, artwork serves as a healthy alternative to other high-risk activities. Led by a talented young artist, Vincent Dumoulin, and with the contribution of a canvas (his wall) by Johnston Phan of DVD Rental, the program expanded to complete its first outdoor mural.

The mural program has since expanded to decorate other businesses, including building walls across from BYRC at Broadway and Fraser, and at Broadway and Main. For businesses, the murals have created a youth-friendly atmosphere as their visibility indicates the location is a safe and positive place for young people in the community. This project has provided many benefits, including developing positive peer connections, building youth pride in the community, having a safe venue for youth to express themselves artistically, teaching new skills in art production, and self-esteem building through meaningful involvement.

A Dollar A Day

What if there was a vision big enough to empower regular people to eliminate poverty? That is the premise behind the Dollar A Day Campaign, a movement led by youth in the Tri-Cities of BC.

The campaign, started by Coquitlam Alliance Church, promotes getting as many people as possible in Vancouver to contribute a dollar a day for 30 days in the month of November with 100% of the proceeds going to the fight against urban poverty in Metro Vancouver. Funds collected will then be disbursed to 4 local organization as capital to fund their visions of reaching more homeless people in Vancouver.

A Dollar A Day has put on several events to raise support and awareness for the campaign throughout the year. For more information about past events, please visit dollaradaycampaign.com.

5 Days for the Homeless

In March of 2009, a group of students at the University of British Columbia will sacrifice basic necessities in attempt to draw attention to the plight of the homeless in their communities. Called “5 Days for the Homeless,” the event will see these students living without shelter and disposable income for five days, with all food and drink donated to them by passersby on campus. In addition, they will still complete their academic responsibilities and post their experiences on a daily blog.

The event was initiated by a group of students from the University of Alberta in 2005 and has now grown into a national event. Ten universities across Canada participated last year raising over $130,000 for youth at risk across the country, with the University of British Columbia successfully raising $15,000 in March of 2008. This year, the money raised will go towards supporting the Broadway Youth Resource Centre (BYRC). BYRC is an integrated one-stop centre that provides a wide range of social, health, cultural, education, employment and life skills services to homeless and at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 24.

Cold Wet Weather Program

The Tri-Cities Cold Wet Weather Program was created in 2007 to provide overnight shelter in church facilities during the wet weather months for people who are homeless. The shelter rotates through 5 host churches in the Tri-Cities, for one month at a time. Homeless persons are bussed to the shelter from pick-up points located throughout the Tri-Cities.

The host church provides overnight space which is warm and dry for up to 30 mats at a time. Shelter provide three meals, prepared by volunteers who close up each morning at 7am. The program operates from November – March. 135 clients used the shelter during the 4 months of the 2007/08 season. By the end of the 2007/08 season, 19 persons who had been homeless were off the street.

Outcomes are:

1. The CWW program and churches has engaged a large number of volunteers -distributed throughout the Tri-Cities – in providing services to and having direct contact with homeless persons.

2. Each of the 3 cities required the host churches to be rezoned for residential use (i.e. overnight accomodation) – this public process attracted the interest of the media.

3. The need for a permanent shelter was recognized – and Coquitlam has donated City-owned land for a permanent shelter/transitional housing facility to be built in partnership with BC Housing.

Businesses Come Together – Vancouver Dream Catchers

When the Vancouver Dream Catchers homeless street soccer team officially launched last April, they had players but no equipment. The squad had to practice and play in whatever footwear and athletic attire they could put together – mostly hand-me-downs and other used clothing. The team, which is run on charitable donations, was using construction pylons for soccer goals as they trained for a national tournament in Calgary.

Local businesses Darwin Construction and Farpost Soccer Company heard about the team through the media, and wanted to get involved. Darwin sponsored the team with brand new uniforms and soccer cleats, and Farpost donated its portable soccer goals.

With new equipment and outfitted in sharp gear, the team’s confidence blossomed. They went on to win Nationals in Calgary, and will be sending two players to play for Team Canada at the Homeless World Cup in Calgary. Thanks to socially responsible businesses like Darwin and Farpost (among others), the Dream Catchers have become role models for people who are homeless throughout the country.

Victoria Identification Project

In February 2007, the Victoria Cool Aid Society together with other service providers completed an important census. The Homeless Needs Survey addressed Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens and uncovered the difficulties they face in acquiring new or replacement personal identification. We have created a booklet in response to these barriers. Identification is absolutely essential to navigate in our daily life, and is a major barrier for many homeless people.

Situations where ID is required:

  • if stopped by the police
  • to receive income assistance
  • to open a bank account
  • to access medical care
  • to stay a night in a hotel

This booklet has been designed to help people in the process of obtaining identification. If you require any assistance (filling out forms, accessing payment for applications, letter from a guarantor, etc.) please contact Carole James’ community office at 1084 Fort Street, near Fort and Cook — we are pleased to assist you. To date, over 300 files have been opened, 100 closed and 3 pieces of ID per file have been acquired in the closed files.

Contact Carole James | 1084 Fort St | Victoria, V8V 3K4 | Phone: 250-952-4211

Elementary Class Sock Drive

As a kindergarten student, Hannah Newbury literally took matters into her own hands. At the age of 6, after being given $6 in pennies, she bought food for the hungry people who came to her church for hot meals. Her one act has since grown into a penny drive that has donated close to $900 in healthy food to the church. Hannah then went a step further and asked Nanci Farrell, the principal at Lord Selkirk School for permission to organize a sock drive. Hannah calculated that if every student and staff member brought one pair, 600 people would get new socks. In the end the Lord Selkirk students surpassed their goal (the kindergarten kids alone had collected more than 100). With the help of school staff, 649 people received a new pair of socks at First United Church on East Hastings Street.

Youth Safe Houses in North Shore / Maple Ridge

The Iron Horse Youth Safe House in Maple Ridge provides temporary shelter for youth ages 13 to 18. The youth come from all backgrounds – though most have been living on the streets and/or couch surfing for weeks, months, or even years before arriving.

In addition to shelter, Iron Horse provides confidential health services for youth in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and the surrounding area. The range of services include: health education, immunizations, referrals, reproductive health care services (including birth control), pregnancy testing, STD testing, and alcohol and drug counseling. Services are free; with health care products provided at cost. A physician is available at the clinic on Thursdays. Clinic hours are 4 to 8 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Iron Horse Youth Safe House | c/o 22318 McIntosh Avenue, Maple Ridge | 466-2665 or 1-877-435-SAFE

The North Shore Youth Safe House is operated by the Hollyburn Family Services Society, and provides a four-bed emergency shelter and a two-bed transitional supportive housing unit for youth. The shelter offers support to youth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additional services include life skills coaching, personal counselling, addiction counselling and employment coaching.

For information on the service can call 1-877-78-YOUTH (1-877-789-6884).

Homeless Connect Events

Based on a successful model used in San Francisco, this year’s Homelessness Action Week will bring together businesses, service providers, and volunteers in a number of Homeless Connect Events throughout Metro and elsewhere in the province. The events bring together as many services as possible in one place to make it easier for people who are homeless to connect to services they need, but may find difficult to access on the street. Homeless Connect events can include medical care, dental care, income assistance intake, food services, haircuts, foot care, massage and even pet care.

Every guest who comes through the door is partnered with a volunteer who welcomes the guest and helps direct him or her to the services that are a priority for that person. Vancity Credit Union is sponsoring the Homeless Connect events throughout Metro and will also be providing teams of volunteers to assist throughout the day. For more information on Homeless Connect events in your community, please go to stophomelessness.ca and click on the Communities tab.

Burnaby Mobile Outreach

The Burnaby Task Force on Homelessness (with the support of the Progressive Housing Society) sponsors the Outreach Resource Centre, operating out of Southside Community Church, at 7135 Walker Avenue, Burnaby, on Thursday mornings from 9-12 am. The Centre recently expanded their program with the operation of a Mobile Outreach Van. The van, funded by Service Canada through HPI, travels to a variety of locations in Burnaby and delivers Outreach Resource Centre services (i.e., housing searches, food, clothing). The van is retrofitted with hygiene kits and other supplies which are passed out by outreach workers. It follows a weekly schedule:

Tuesday
9:30am -10:30am, Central Park near fountain at Kingsway and Patterson
11:00am -12:30am, West Burnaby United Church, 6050 Sussex Ave
1:00pm – 2:00pm, Metrotown Library, 6100 Willingdon Ave

Wednesday
10:00am-2:00pm, Lougheed Skytrain Station

Thursday
9:00am- 12:00pm, Outreach Resource Centre, Southside Community Church 7135 Walker Ave, Burnaby

Housing for Seniors

United Way of the Lower Mainland has convened leaders from the real estate and development community in 2007 to raise $1 million over three years in an effort to provide a solution for seniors who may otherwise be living in a short-term shelter or on the street. In partnership with United Way, the Seniors Services Society, and the Greater Vancouver Housing Corporation, this significant investment from Lower Mainland real estate developers would make temporary housing available to as many as 110 seniors each year.

United Way of the Lower Mainland is focused on prevention based strategies. The goal of this initiative is to support seniors before they reach a state of crisis, to provide a simple furnished apartment for a short, fixed term, to assist in finding affordable housing and to aid them in managing their finances and accessing the financial support to which they are entitled.

United Way is committed to ensuring the financial sustainability of this initiative beyond the three-year commitment from the development community. Already the partnership has brought in $297,000 over the past year. The goal is to bring in another $400,000 this year with a vision to purchase new housing units moving forward.

STAND for Housing

The idea of a STAND is based on the example of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an association of Argentine mothers whose children “disappeared” under the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. They stood in a city square every week for years and their white scarves became an international brand for peaceful protests.

The first STAND in Vancouver was at Little Mountain Housing Complex. The publicly owned site is being sold and redeveloped with no increase in the number of social housing units. The tenants have been displaced, and 224 homes will be destroyed years before the reconstruction begins. While thousands in Vancouver are homeless, more than 170 homes now sit empty at Little Mountain. Community Advocates for Little Mountain (CALM) have held a STAND every Saturday since October 2007 to protest this situation and support the remaining tenants.

Beginning in February 2008 the Citywide Housing Coalition expanded the concept of the STAND to the issue of affordable housing generally and increased the number of locations. STAND supporters, with their colourful banners and scarves now occupy fifteen busy street corners throughout Vancouver on a regular basis.