End Homelessness Now

End Homelessness Now

September 13, 2010 12:00 ET

Homeless People in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside May Lose a Place to Store Belongings

First United Church Asks for Public Voting Support in Online Competition

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 13, 2010) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this Press Release.

A unique storage facility installed in October 2009, thanks to a grant from the City Of Vancouver's New Beginnings initiative, will close if funding cannot be found to support its ongoing operation. The largest storage facility of its kind in Vancouver is housed at First United Church and provides a place for over 200 homeless people to safely store personal belongings on a short-term basis.

In an effort to raise funds to help sustain the facility, First United Church is asking the public to vote online for its entry in the Pepsi Refresh Project for a $25,000 grant (www.refresheverything.ca).

"Having a place to store belongings is often the first step off the streets for people who are homeless, and it helps to encourage a sense of dignity," says Reverend Ric Matthews, Executive Minister at First United Church.

People can store their shopping carts, rolling suitcases or be given a bin to hold their belongings. Roughly 1000 sq ft, the facility is operated between the hours of 8 am and 10:30 pm. It costs about $96,000 per year to operate and offers jobs for seven Downtown Eastside residents.

Documentary filmmaker Billy Wong has made a short video supporting the First United entry into the competition. "Because of this storage space, people can to do some basic things that most of us take for granted," says Wong. "They can go to a job interview or medical appointment, get a meal, or even use the washroom without fear of losing the precious few things they have."

The winner of the competition will be the entry that receives the most votes from the public over a two-month period. Voting started on September 1st and ends on October 31st. Visit http://www.refresheverything.ca/login to sign up, view the video and vote in the $25,000 Food and Shelter category.

About First United

First United is an inclusive community situated in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside providing safe refuge for homeless & marginalized people. "Home" to 250 people nightly, this 23 hrs/day facility provides services that include three meals a day, advocacy, health & social support services, storage, showers and access to supportive networks www.firstunited.ca.

To view the photo associated with this Press Release, please visit the following link: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20100910-storage.jpg

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