A concept drawing showing a north-east ariel view of the new Port Alberni Shelter Society building on Eighth Avenue. The new facility is slated to be built on Eighth Avenue across from the old one.
By Wawmeesh G. Hamilton - Alberni Valley News
Published: March 21, 2013 6:00 PM
Updated: March 21, 2013 7:04 PM The Port Alberni Shelter Society plans one more open house in the near future before roping everything together to submit to funding agencies, society spokesperson Myron Jespersen said. Between 120-150 people attended the last open house, held March 14 at the Best Western Barclay Hotel.
“This is another step in the process and I thought it went well,” Jespersen said. “The main point was to engage people and get more ideas and I felt we accomplished that.”The function was from 3-8 p.m. and attendance fluctuated, Jespersen said. “A lot of people came between 3-5 p.m., it died down at dinner time, then it picked up again between 7-8 p.m,” he said.
No one mood dominated among the people who attended, he said. “Some people came opposed and left that way, while others who were opposed left more favourable to the idea.” People were given the opportunity to ask questions and contribute ideas. There was a wide variety of questions with no one category tilting the balance, Jespersen said.
Officials received 37 responses, and ideas included better facility and neighbourhood lighting, as well as creating a community garden. “I think that’s doable because there will be vacant land on either side of the new facility,” he said. Input was also received in the society’s good neighbour agreement, the document that will guide how the parties will deal with issues that arise.
The issue is slowly advancing through the next stage, which will see the assembling of members of a good neighbour team that will meet regularly and work on issues when they arise. “We just need to identify interested neighbours who want to be part of this because there isn’t a neighbourhood association,” Jespersen said.
Input from the evening will be assembled into the facility’s final design by the end of the month. The final product will be submitted to BC Housing as part of a funding request package. email@example.com Twitter.com/AlberniNews
A concept drawing of the new Port Alberni Shelter Society facility, which is slated to be built on Eighth Avenue across from the old facility. This schematic and others will be available for viewing and comment at a special open house on Thursday, March 14, from 3-8 p.m., at the Best Western Barclay Hotel. Photo Submitted
By Wawmeesh G. Hamilton - Alberni Valley News
Published: March 14, 2013 6:00 AM
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:02 PM The long process in reconciling the two sides in the proposed new Port Alberni Shelter Society facility issue has started. According to Mayor John Douglas, more than 80 people attended a meeting he facilitated March 7 between residents and society representatives. The meeting was an attempt to bridge the gap between the two sides, he said. Society officials are working to build a new shelter across the street from the existing one on a swath of land owned by the Vancouver Island Health Authority.
More than 150 residents in the area have outlined concerns dealing with drug use, theft and property invasion which they say stems from a number of shelter residents.Several issues came out at the meeting that had not been discussed before, Douglas said. Better neighbourhood lighting and working with shelter officials on administrative issues and curfew times were among those mentioned, he related.
“Some people were happy, some were unhappy and there were others in between.” The meeting was productive and another step forward in the issue, society official Myron Jespersen said. “We’ve gone from expressing concerns to having a discussion and trying to work through the issues,” he said. There are other variables to consider with respect to changing curfew times, Jespersen said. “They only work to keep people out and not in. And do people really want that when someone shows up and has to stay outside?”
The meeting was a precursor to a formal community consultation meeting being held on Thursday, March 14 from 3-8 p.m. at the Best Western Barclay Hotel. The event will provide an opportunity for the public to review site plans, floor plans and elevations for the proposed replacement facility, Jespersen said. There will also be an opportunity for people to peruse and give input to the shelter’s good neighbour agreement, a document that sets out how neighbours and the shelter will resolve issues between them. “Some of the things that have been discussed, those are exactly the kind of issues that can be resolved through a good neighbour agreement,” Jespersen said. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/AlberniNews
Funding will enable organizations to get new advocacy and outreach training
Julie Bertrand, Alberni Valley Times
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Five local agencies learned last December that they were getting a $123,600 Community Action Initiative training innovation grant for an outreach and advocacy project.
They were the Port Alberni Shelter Society, the Port Alberni Friendship Center, the Port Alberni Association for Community Living, the Vancouver Island Health Authority Adult Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Port Alberni branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. The groups will collaborate on a training program that will focus on collectively improving their community outreach and advocacy skills, while providing increased opportunity for collaboration among all service providers.
North Island College will partner with the agencies to plan the curriculum and deliver the learning. The Port Alberni Shelter Society will take the lead role in the project, meaning it will administer the funding. "We're the glue that ties everybody together," said Wes Hewitt, PASS director. He added the agencies decided to apply for the grant when they saw it had to do with mental health and addiction. "It's a very strong area for us," Hewitt said.
The training will enable outreach workers and advocates to make connections with other agencies, to work on a positive level with clients and to move them along the continuous changes.
"We are working with the clients so they can access what they need to access," Hewitt said. For example, case managers at the shelter will work with clients and connect them with VIHA Adult Mental Health and Addiction so that they might get treatments.
Then, VIHA will send clients who need housing to the shelter. "We have a really good group of agencies and groups that work together," Hewitt said. "This is just taking that and moving it to the next level."
Training will be split into eight modules of 12 hours. Participants will receive three hours of face-to-face training per module, while the remaining nine hours will be conducted by distance, using computer technology. Hewitt said it will take six months to develop and deliver the training.
Although workers from the five agencies will form the basic class enrollment, partners from other local agencies will be invited to get the training. Port Alberni North Island College campus principal Tom Weegar is very excited about the training project. "We're excited to work with the agencies and to do the training," he said. In fact, NIC is looking into making the training program a permanent course offering. "Hopefully, when we get the program developed and in place, it can be something that we can offer on a regular basis," Weegar said.
The grant is a feather in the cap of the five agencies, as their project was only one of 13 chosen in the province. In total, the Communication Action Initiative leadership council received 130 applications. "They narrowed it down to 29 at the second stage, and then 13 were funded," Hewitt said. The Community Action Initiative is funded through a $10 million grant from the B.C. government.
JBertrand@avtimes.netTraining Website is at http://improvingoutcomes.weebly.com/
By Wawmeesh G. Hamilton - Alberni Valley News
Published: January 31, 2013 5:00 PM
Updated: January 31, 2013 5:58 PM
The Society overseeing construction of a new shelter on Eighth Avenue is reaching out to neighbours who are opposed to the plan by drafting a “good neighbour” agreement. It is just one step in moving forward to making the shelter a reality, Port Alberni Shelter Society spokesperson Myron Jespersen told city councillors last week.
The society commissioned geotechnical and environmental surveys, both of which find that the Eighth Avenue location is suitable for a new shelter, Jespersen said. As well, meetings are scheduled with the project architect, Victoria’s Jensen Group, who will work on concepts that will shape a schematic design and site plan. The documents will be used in subsequent community consultation sessions, which Jespersen estimates will get off the ground in four to five weeks, he said. Afterward, a final agreement and design will be crafted and used as components of a package that will be sent to potential funders such as BC Housing, whom they’ve had cursory discussions with, Jespersen said.
The shelter will cost about $8 million to build. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said. A key part of the project is crafting and completing a “good neighbour” agreement, something Jespersen just started working on. Jespersen said he’s already talked to some neighbours, and is willing to work with anyone who wants to participate in creating a rough draft of the document that can be refined through further public consultation, he said.
The process isn’t new: “It was done with other projects, like the Roger Street apartments,” he said. The shelter society has had access to the land, which Vancouver Island Health Authority owns, for planning purposes but there is more work to be done before the health authority gives final approval, VIHA spokesperson Val Wilson said. “We have not yet approved a long-term agreement to provide the site to the society, and the agreement would require VIHA board and Ministry of Health approval,” Wilson said.
However, the society has a memorandum of understanding with VIHA, Jespersen said. “It basically approves of our intention to build a new shelter on the land and commits to proceeding toward a final agreement,” Jespersen said. “The MOU is what triggered us to proceed with the plan.” While Jespersen said progress is being made with neighbouring residents, some feel the shelter still overshadows their concerns. “No one considers what the people in our neighbourhood have to deal with,” said Lesley Silverstone, whose Eighth Avenue house will face the front door of the proposed shelter. More than 150 residents have outlined concerns dealing with drug use and selling, theft and property invasion which stems from some shelter residents, Silverstone said.
Also a concern to residents is the number of social services wedged into the area. “There’s the Salvation Army, several group homes, Service BC, seniors facilities and an elementary school loaded into the area,” Silverstone said. “No place else in the city carries that kind of load. ”Silverstone has raised her concerns with VIHA and with city officials and intends to keep the heat on them by sending letters of concern about the development from more than 150 residents. “We’re asking them to reconsider their decision,” she said after making a presentation to council on Monday (Jan. 28).
Residents may have little recourse and a new shelter may be a forgone conclusion, City Manager Ken Watson said in December. The land the shelter wants for a new facility is owned by VIHA, not the city., Watson said. The site is already properly zoned, therefore no public process is required.
City councillors already approved the plan shelter officials brought to them. All that remains is a building permit application, Watson said. Coun. Cindy Solda gave a notice of motion to have the city facilitate a meeting between the society and the neighbourhood residents. email@example.com
With the temperature dropping and the weather wet and windy, the Port Alberni Shelter sees a greater demand for their services. We have limited resources but try to accommodate everyone who comes through our doors, be it need of shelter, food or clothing. With the increased demand for our services and Christmas just around the corner, we are in great need of more support of food and clothing items to meet our needs over the holiday season.
The Shelter is a non-profit society that was established in 1972 to meet the needs of people who require immediate shelter in the Port Alberni area. We operate 24 hours per day and are open 365 days per year and our current facility usually remains at full capacity. We provide emergency shelter, transitional housing and over 37,380 meals annually for persons experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. This includes people experiencing a personal crisis, persons re-entering the community after treatment or incarceration, or people who need a hot meal, shower and a warm bed.
We provide shelter and meals for persons experiencing homelessness, and are contracted by the provincial government to provide emergency shelter for 12 people per night. However, the number of clients that use this service is often much higher. We receive no additional funding for these extra beds but still need to provide three meals daily, laundry facilities, showers, toiletries, toothbrushes and toothpaste for our clients.
Not only is there a need for food such as turkeys and hams, canned goods, (sorry we cannot accept home canned goods) coffee, tea, and cleaning supplies, but we also need winter clothing, especially jackets, gloves, toques, boots and shoes for both men and women. We are always in need of socks, underwear, deodorant, shampoo, soap, or any other personal care items. We are appealing to the people of Port Alberni, businesses, clubs and other organizations for their assistance this season. Any donations may be dropped off at the Port Alberni Shelter, 3978-8th Avenue.
We would also like to thank the Port Alberni businesses that donate all year round, as wells as all the community groups and people from our community that continue to support us. Your gifts and donations are greatly appreciated and we thank you all for your continued support.
Our Christmas Wish List
Listed below are items we always need, but we welcome all donations
Clothing (all sizes and used are welcome)
Men's Shoes/boots - sizes 10-13 or larger
Men’s & Women’s underwear (new)
Men’s & Women’s T-shirts (M, L, XL)
Men’s & Women’s Hoodies (M, L, XL)
Other Clothing (all sizes and used are welcome)
Construction boots (steel toe size 10 and up)
Men’s & Women’s running shoes
Rain jackets/ponchos/rain pants
Turkeys and hams for Christmas dinner (these can also be frozen for later on, a turkey or ham goes a long way for dinners and soups for lunch)
Canned meat or fish
Pasta (especially macaroni) & Pasta Sauces
Veggies (canned‚ mushrooms, carrots, peas, potato)
Ice tea mix
Tea & Coffee
Other Non-perishable food items such as:
Beans in sauce, pork & beans
Beans, tinned or dried
Canned meals (i.e. Chef Boyardee/stew/ravioli)
Men’s & Women’s – Shave cream & razors
Men’s & Women’s – Deodorant
Lip balm, Blistex
Toothbrushes & toothpaste
Tampons w/ applicators
Bath size towels
Clean pillows, blankets, & comforters
Metal Egg Slicer for our Kitchen
Other household items:
Pots, pans (not bake ware)
Keri Sculland, Alberni Valley Times Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Cold weather is on the way, and while many people are bundling up for the winter season ahead, some might not be able to. Each year, members of the community need a little extra help around this time of year to keep warm.
Businesses and individuals have been very generous in donating jackets, mitts and warm clothing each year, Port Alberni Shelter Society administrator Wes Hewitt said. When the weather gets cold, Hewitt and staff at the shelter notice an influx of visitors searching for a warm bed. "It has been a strong year all year round, but yes, we will see a little more of an increase here," Hewitt said.
On Nov. 1, B.C. Housing will release funding for "extreme weather beds," which means the number of people able to stay at the local shelter will increase. The new number accommodates the influx of visitors expected, and lasts until March. If weather continues to be extremely cold or miserable after March, B.C. Housing will adjust the funding to ensure people are kept under a roof with a warm bed.
"It is not a line in the sand. It is based on needs," Hewitt said. An Extreme Weather Response program funds community-based services to provide temporary emergency shelter spaces. RCMP is given the legal capacity to assist individuals in finding housing during extreme weather as well, Hewitt explained.
"B.C. Housing, what they do is they fund a whole program that expands capacity of beds in the province to deal with increased demand in the winter time," Hewitt said. "The last thing B.C. Housing wants to see, or we want to see, or anyone in the community wants to see, is someone losing their life or in distress in bad weather."
Although the number of people going into the shelter has been steady all year, Hewitt said the summer time is easier for people to fare when they are homeless because of the warmth. "In the summer time, it's a little bit easier, but in the winter time, it gets cold and wet here," he said.
Each year, Hewitt and the shelter experiences an outpouring of support from people in Port Alberni. Businesses and individuals pull together to provide clothing, warmth and comfort for less fortunate citizens during the winter months. Every year, the shelter staff and volunteers hope to gather enough winter jackets, mitts, socks, underwear and toiletries to support the people staying there.
The Port Alberni Shelter would like to express our sincere appreciation for the generosity and support from the Port Alberni community and local businesses over Thanksgiving. We received much more than we expected and the generous donations from the community have allowed us to serve a munificent Thanksgiving Dinner and the extra turkeys and hams will allow us to continue to feed our patrons. Your assistance means so much to our clients but even more to the Port Alberni Shelter Society as it helps us care for our clients. Your commitment to fighting homelessness in our community is sincerely appreciated.
Each year The Port Alberni Shelter Society continues to advance its mission to house the homeless. Through our Emergency Shelter, Supportive Housing, and Community Support Programs we have seen many lives changed for the better. And by working with organizations such as BC Housing, Mental Health and Addictions, VIHA, and the Canadian Mental Health Associations we can work to provide the support needed by individuals to lead a more productive life. People are a powerful force in their communities and when they have opportunities to improve their lives, the whole community benefits.
The goal of the Port Alberni Shelter Society is to continue to make a difference in the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. With the help of donations from community businesses and individuals, we will continue to see improvements in our community.Thank you from all of us.
Some of our donors include:
Bill Randle and Family
House of Service
Patty Edwards & Scott Fraser
As well as many others who did not leave a name but left generous donations.
A special thanks to McDermotts Insurance & Butch Taylor, his family and Staff at Coleman Road Shingle for their donation of six turkeys each for our Thanksgiving offering. Butch stated "We feel fortunate this year to have maintained operations and provide steady work for our ten employees. Thanks to companies like Probyn Log and Western Forest Products who see the value in providing local logs so local mills are able to provide quality products to our customers. This is a small contribution to help those less fortunate this Thanksgiving.
Dave (first name only) a homeless panhandler asks for handouts on the conner Burrard St. and West Georgia St. in Vancouver January 4, 2011. A Snowfall Warning was issued for the low mainland for tonight and tomorrow morning.
(JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)Heather Scoffield
OTTAWA — The Canadian Press
Published Monday, Sep. 24 2012, 1:44 PM EDT Last updated Monday, Sep. 24 2012, 2:43 PM EDT A new study says there’s a consensus forming on how to fix one of the most stubborn social problems: homelessness. The study by Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, pulls together research from across Canada and the United States, which suggests it’s far cheaper to give a homeless person a place to live than to provide a patchwork of emergency services.
More Related to this Story Mr. Gaetz says governments spend at least $4.5-billion a year dealing with homeless people, including the costs of emergency health care, mental-health services, law enforcement, shelters and food banks. That’s because their use of the health system is high and unpredictable, because they often have run-ins with the law and because upon release from jail, they often end up homeless again.
Recent research done through the Mental Health Commission of Canada shows that providing support and housing to chronically homeless people can save taxpayers 54 cents on the dollar compared with the current approach. But while the solutions are becoming more obvious, the challenge is to make them happen.
“Even when people don’t like the present, they’re often reluctant to make the change,” Mr. Gaetz, an associate professor at York University, said in an interview. “The tide is turning however. I think they will do it in time.” The trouble is, “they” are wide array of departments at different levels of government, a hodge-podge of volunteers, churches and charities, as well as the private sector.
They all experience higher costs because of their fragmented way of dealing with homelessness, but there is no obvious way for them to collaborate in a way that would trim costs and deal more effectively with the problem, Mr. Gaetz said. “That’s a problem with governments. Doing that kind of joined-up thinking is difficult.”
The network he leads brings together researchers, non-profit organizations and government officials in an effort to find out more about the homeless in Canada and confront the problem. It is partly funded by Ottawa. The federal government has resisted increasing its involvement in affordable housing and repeatedly turns down proposals for a national poverty strategy. It wants the provinces to take on those roles, arguing that they are closer to the ground.
However, the correctional system is a major challenge for homelessness, says Mr. Gaetz, and the federal government has an undeniable role in that area. He cites research showing that homeless people are far more likely to be arrested and jailed than people who are housed. And often, these people are released without adequate support — winding up homeless again and at a higher risk of re-offending.
The costs of the vicious circle are high for police, for the correctional system and for the individuals, Mr. Gaetz says. One study shows that taxpayers pay between $66,000 and $120,000 to cover the basic annual costs for prison or psychiatric hospitals for just one homeless person. The room for savings is ample, Mr. Gaetz’s research shows.
He points to interim findings from the mental health commission’s At Home pilot project. It shows that providing mentally ill homeless people with a home and the right kind of social supports saves about $9,390 per person annually. For chronically homeless people who are frequent users of social services, the annual savings are $25,899 per person.
The savings are substantial enough for a so-called “housing first” approach to homeless to take root in many communities across Canada — despite the difficulties governments and departments have in collaborating, says Tim Richter, who heads the newly formed Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. “You start with some local work-arounds,” he said. In Calgary, for example, advocates for the homeless worked with local police, who enlisted social workers to single out and prioritize people with mental-health problems. “There are a lot of different ways to peel the onion,” he said.
VVANCOUVER --A $30-million philanthropic gift from an anonymous wealthy couple is allowing the City of Vancouver to reopen Taylor Manor as a home for 56 street people with complex mental health issues.
Over the next two years the city will also pour up to $10 million of public money into a $14 million renovation and expansion plan for the 1915 Tudor Revival-style heritage mansion located on Boundary Road near Adanac Park. The rest of the capital funds will come from the Streetohome Foundation, Vancity Credit Union and other donors. The renovation includes the addition of a three-storey annex, community garden, kitchen and dining facilities and program areas.
The contribution of the elderly Vancouver couple will allow the home to operate completely independent of ongoing government support. The donors’ gift will run through a separate foundation and underwrite the $900,000 annual cost of operating Taylor Manor.
“This is an unprecedented donation of what I believe is the largest donation in the city’s history to our effort to end homelessness,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said.
The city announced the plans Friday against the backdrop of the decrepit, but still striking mansion, first built by the city as “The Old Peoples’ Home” and renamed in 1946 after eight-term mayor, Louis D. Taylor, who died in poverty at the age of 88.
Until 2000 the mansion was a long-term care facility, but was shut down when residents moved to the adjacent Adanac Park Lodge, which is operated by Vancouver Coastal Health.
Still owned by the city, it has played a role in B-grade movies and served as an occasional training facility for police. Periodic attempts to renovate it for seniors housing have failed, the most recent in 2003. Now it will become a semi-permanent home for people with mental health and addiction issues who have been living on the street.
The benefactors’ unusual offer to completely underwrite the operating costs of a new supportive housing facility appears to have made the project possible. Their gift leveraged money out of the city to renovate the building, as well as $1.4 million from Streetohome through a gift from Vancity, and another $200,000 from another group, the Carraresi Foundation.
When Taylor Manor is finished in about two years, it will be operated by the Kettle Friendship Society.
The project comes as the city’s efforts to stem the tide of homelessness have faltered. Robertson’s Vision Vancouver party made a pledge in 2008 to eliminate homelessness by 2015. He later modified the goal to end “street homeless.” Last year, 154 people were catalogued living on the street. But a new count in March showed the number had almost doubled again to 306, and city staff say the situation will worsen by 2014.
“We have had tough news over the past couple of months seeing our street homeless numbers bump back up,” Robertson said. “We really have to redouble our efforts ... and Taylor Manor is a key piece of that strategy.”
Coun. Kerry Jang, a University of B.C. professor of psychiatry who specializes in mental health issues and is the city’s representative on housing and homeless issues, was nearly moved to tears by the donors’ largesse. He said he and city staff, including Judy Graves, the coordinator specializing in dealing with the homeless, have sometimes despaired at trying to solve the complex, interwoven issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health.
“It is a bit of an emotional moment for me, simply because for many years Judy and I and many of our staff have been out there and we see the suffering every single day. And every day I feel hopeless because what can we do? We put [people] into hospital for a while and they are let back out on the street again with no hope. It is just a revolving door, a revolving door, a revolving door,” he said.
“Taylor Manor is fundamentally different. Taylor Manor provides that hope, that place of belonging, that place of care. It is like when you come home from a long trip and you come in through the front door and sit down on the couch and breathe ‘I’m home.’ This is the vision of our donors and one that I am so glad to help bring forward.”
The donation firmly puts the city back in the business of directing housing for seniors and the poor. In recent months the city has complained that BC Housing was not placing enough homeless people in new units built on land provided by the city but funded by the province.
In this case the city’s housing department will help decide who is admitted to Taylor Manor, Robertson said.
The province is interested in participating in Taylor Manor, but it won’t be asked for operating funds, he said.
The project still has to go through a rezoning application this fall, with a public open house for neighbours set for July 12. But the city’s announcement Friday leaves little doubt that the project will go ahead regardless of public views.
The benefactors underwriting the operation were present for the announcement and looked on without emotion. The city asked that their wishes for anonymity be respected.
Jang said the circumstances behind their gift were both unusual and complicated. He said the pair called him up out of the blue two years ago after they read about the city’s growing homelessness problems. They offered to help but were very particular about what they wanted to do. “They were really smart cookies and they had done their homework,” he said.
Unlike other philanthropic gifts to help the homeless, which usually go to capital costs, the benefactors categorically insisted that their money should underwrite the annual operating costs of the facility, he said.
Jang said he and Graves took the couple around the Downtown Eastside to see how non-profit housing works. They also met and had dinner with a number of homeless people. Through all of that, the couple formulated a plan to provide a gift in perpetuity through the endowment of their $30-million fund.
“We told them the way the city does things, that we use donations for capital, but they just ground us down,” Jang said with a smile. “It was the most unusual gift I’ve ever seen, and we had to create a new legal structure for this to work.”Jefflee@vancouversun.comTwitter.com/suncivicleeBlog: www.vancouversun.com/jefflee
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