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Business foundation comes out with homeless plan, cash to follow

January 12th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The saga of the Streetohome Foundation, a group set up in 2008 as part of Vancouver’s drive under then-city manager Judy Rogers to get other partners helping solve the homelessness problem, has been an interesting one to follow.

It’s got two-dozen high-powered business leaders on its board, but it’s been a bit stymied from the beginning about what to do. Its role seemed clear when it first started because there was a huge problem and huge gap. But then the province jacked up to high warp speed as the Olympics approached, and it became less clear what this group could do that was unique and strategic.

Adding to the barriers, the city’s plan to convince the federal government to give special tax breaks for people donating to homelessness projects went nowhere.

From everything I’ve heard, people on the board are still panting to tackle the region’s homelessness problem with chequebooks open, but nothing is finalized yet. They’ve come up with their 10-year business plan and what they’re going to focus on, as I wrote in today’s Globe. Now everyone, include many board members, is waiting to see what they actually do with it.

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  • One cannot help but be impressed with the composition of the Board of Street to Home, and its staffing. But I am not convinced it is heading in the right direction by proposing to build more projects….I think it should consider following the Toronto Street to Home model which helped house people in existing accommodations, scattered around the city. It then ensured that services were provided, on a reduced basis as the residents became more settled and often found work.

    Now some will say that’s not possible here since we don’t have enough vacant housing stock, but I don’t agree. Every month, units become available which could be leased and offered to people looking for homes. Furthermore, with some careful management and support, some people might move into basement suites and other shared accommodation.

    I appreciate this is not as glamorous as building new or renovated projects, but it could lead to some speedy results.

    But regardless of the solution, I salute the business community for getting involved in trying to address the many problems associated with the homeless.

    PS. In a recent exchange I have had with Judy Graves, it has been suggest that it would be helpful to set up a ‘rent bank’ that might help people looking for homes who don’t have the necessary deposits….perhaps Street to Home could check out this idea.

    I am also still of the opinion there are some people on the street who might benefit from re-unification with old friends and family. Again, I know this may only apply to a small minority, but it would be great if Street to Home could financially support the Salvation Army and other organizations that are trying to help people get off the street by reconnecting them with their former friends and family.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    The single, most beneficial action this group could and should be pursuing in the city of Vancouver — one that will achieve so much on so many levels — is to revive the Pantages Theatre restoration, and the corresponding social housing and mixed use plan for this block of East Hastings between Main and Columbia.