St. Andrew's-Wesley Homelessness and Mental Health Action Group

May 14, 2008 14:26 ET

St. Andrew's-Wesley Homelessness and Mental Health Action Group: Public Forum on Ending Homelessness in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 14, 2008) - The number of "chronically homeless" sleeping on the street or in shelters in Metro Vancouver has more than tripled since 2005. The chronically homeless are those who have been on the street for a year or more.

"It is very hard to get off drugs, or find treatment for mental illness or other disability if you don't have a roof over your head," says Nancy Hall, B.C.'s former Mental Health Advocate. "It's even harder if you've been on the street for over a year. What's needed now is a housing-first policy. We need to be moving the chronically homeless off the street and directly into homes and that's not happening yet in Vancouver."

"Housing first" is an alternative to the current system of emergency shelter/transitional housing, which tends to prolong the length of time that people remain homeless. It is based on the belief that housing is a basic human right, and should not be denied to anyone, even if they are abusing alcohol or other substances. Once housed in a home of their own, the "housing first" program ensures they are provided with support services including treatment for addictions and mental illness.

A free public forum examining ways to end chronic homelessness through programs such as "housing first" will be held in Vancouver at 7 p.m. on May 22nd at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church (Burrard & Nelson).

Event: Public Forum on Ending Homelessness in Vancouver

Where/when: Thursday, May 22nd at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church (Burrard & Nelson) in Vancouver.

Speakers: Mike Harcourt, former Premier of B.C. and Mayor of Vancouver; Steve Snyder, President & CEO of TransAlta Corporation and Tim Richter, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation. (Note: Calgary is one of the jurisdictions introducing a housing-first system for the chronically homeless.)

Contact Information

  • St. Andrew's-Wesley Homelessness and
    Mental Health Action Group
    Don Evans
    (604) 505-5921
    Email: evansdon@shaw.ca
    or
    St. Andrew's-Wesley Homelessness and
    Mental Health Action Group
    Gordon Keast, Media Contact
    (604) 538-0250
    Email: gordkeast@shaw.ca