Finding homes for the hard-to-house
The Greater Trail Skills Centre and Career Development Services (CDS) are part way through a 48 week program of one-time-only funding from the federal government to lay the foundation for better support for the region’s homeless and hard-to-house. To sustain the project beyond March 31, 2013, when the current funding expires, the groups are seeking new donors.
Janet Morton, the executive director of the Skills Centre, gave a brief presentation to Rossland’s council on Oct. 9. The Skills Centre, CDS, and La Niña Extreme Weather Shelter are collaborating for a grant from Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), and they will also apply to other foundations and funding sources as opportunities arise.
Morton last presented to council in July in her role as the chair of the Attainable Housing Committee of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team (LCCDT). She reported on the AHC’s housing needs assessment and strategic plan, which highlighted the need to support individuals who are either homeless or “hard to house” in Greater Trail.
“These are individuals who often have multiple issues: mental health issues, addictions issues, relationship abuse issues, and so on, and they also have trouble retaining housing,” Morton told council.
“Four and a half months into the project, we are experiencing extraordinary success,” Morton wrote to council in a separate correspondence. Thirty-six adults, including eight with children, had completed the intake process, and 21 of them have already been housed, “in most cases with some level of on-going support from CLBC [Community Living BC], Mental Health and Addictions, and other sources.”
At this rate, the program seems set to exceed its initial goal of housing 28 individuals. Some of the individuals who are seeking support, or who have recently found support in the program, live in Rossland, Morton added.
The federally funded program also includes a housing inventory that is in progress and an action plan process that has begun within the recently established Homeless Action Committee.
Several long term goals, however, such as maintaining and expanding support for the hard-to-house, or following through on a long term vision to incorporate the La Niña shelter into CDS by the winter of 2013 to 2014, will require new funding to keep the momentum going.
Morton wrote, “Research demonstrates that once vulnerable individuals are housed, it is much more likely they will be willing to address other issues, including counselling and medications for mental health issues, substance abuse rehabilitation and unemployment.”
“There is also significant evidence that getting a vulnerable person housed with supports is substantially less expensive to the taxpayer than the expenses associated with homelessness, including policing, emergency services, medical, and justice system costs,” she continued.
Council voted unanimously to send a letter of support to bolster her grant application to the CBT.