A big report on the city’s homelessness efforts is on the agenda for next week. Most of it states a lot of what we’ve heard throughout the last few months in terms of the state of affairs here in Vancouver re homelessness and where the city would like to go.
A new squib that was interesting to me is that staff are now pitching to have the five new shelters that were created this winter stay open until April of 2010. The city’s homelessness policy guy, Dan Garrison, lists a raft of benefits that the shelters have already achieved, particularly in getting the younger kids who hang around Granville and Davie off the street, complete with new stats graphs from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association on the reduction in their noted incidences of panhandling and homelessness.
That’s an interesting ask, as it extends the life of those shelters for almost a year. Based on past costs, the bill for that would come in at around $5 million for the staff costs and something more from the city to cover the costs of utilities and maintenance.
It’s hard to see how any provincial government, no matter who is elected, can turn this one down. Who, after all, wants to be responsible for putting 500 people out on the street in the months before the Olympics? The report notes that there will likely be a proposal to open up even more of these kinds of low-barrier shelters in the months leading up to the Games.
One financial compensation. Apparently the use of the province’s emergency cold/wet weather shelters declined once the city’s new low-barrier shelters opened. People preferred them because there were fewer rules and they were open consistently, not just when the temperature dropped or the precipitation rose. Maybe the province can use some of the savings from the less-used shelters and transfer them to the more popular ones.