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Province affirms commitment for permanent women’s shelter

For Immediate Release
2012ENER0074-000885
June 19, 2012

Ministry of Energy and Mines
and Minister Responsible for Housing

Vancouver – The B.C. government has committed close to $2.3 million to turn a temporary shelter into a permanent, year-round, women-only shelter on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The funding will allow St. James Community Service Society to begin renovations and convert the temporary 26-bed shelter, which has been operating at 329 Powell Street since November 2011, into a permanent, 52-bed shelter with support services. The society will also relocate three permanent supportive housing units to the facility.The provincial government will provide St. James with close to $575,000 in operational funding to keep the temporary shelter open for an additional six months and is committed to working with the society to provide operational funding once the permanent shelter is open.

St. James will be announcing the launch of a community capital donation campaign to help finance the renovations in the coming weeks.

Quotes:

Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing –

“The Province’s priority is to ensure we have shelter supports and more permanent housing options for women who are homeless on the Downtown Eastside. Our commitment to the society to help with the renovations of the site into a permanent shelter will go a long way towards continuing to provide a safe and supportive environment in which women in need can take that first step towards coming in off the streets and into a better life.”

Trudi Shymka, director of women and children’s services, St. James Community Service Society –

“We are thrilled that the Province is committed to working with us towards both the extension of our temporary shelter and the initial funding that will helping us move forward with our plans for an expanded permanent, women-only shelter providing safety and support serving those most vulnerable in the community.”

“Powell Place is so much more than an emergency shelter. It’s a gateway to permanent accommodation for so many homeless women.”

Quick Facts:

· In Vancouver, there are currently around 160 women-only permanent, year-round shelter spaces that receive provincial funding of close to $6 million.
· While shelters are an important element of the provincial housing strategy, the Province focuses on creating housing that helps people move off the streets permanently. There are currently seven women-only developments providing approximately 335 units of housing on the Downtown Eastside.
· The provincial government provides approximately $20 million annually to make more than 1,300 shelter spaces available in the City of Vancouver. This includes around 630 permanent, year-round shelter beds in Vancouver.
· Last year, the provincial government provided over $1.3 million in funding for homeless outreach so community agencies could connect people who are homeless with shelters, housing and support services.
· Between April and September, provincially funded shelter and outreach workers in Vancouver helped approximately 1,000 people, who were homeless or at risk of homelessness, find stable housing.
· St. James Community Service Society was formed 50 years ago with the mandate of strengthening communities by providing vital support to Vancouver’s most vulnerable citizens. The society is an experienced provider of shelter and housing services for women and currently operates Powell Place on the Downtown Eastside as well as the 32-bed and 10-unit St. Elizabeth Home in Mount Pleasant.

Learn More:

· To learn more about provincial housing programs:http://www.bchousing.org/Initiatives
· To read how the provincial housing strategy is helping British Columbians, visit:
http://www.bchousing.org/Media/Stories
· Further information about the work and history of the St. James Community Service Society can be found at: www.sjcss.com

Media Contact:

Seumas Gordon
BC Housing
604 439-4789

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