Home > About Vancouver > All News > City to expand homeless advocacy, outreach services

City to expand homeless advocacy, outreach services

March 12 2014

“The City’s goal is to ensure that no one has to sleep on the streets at night. Our expansion of new homeless shelters, interim housing, and permanent housing have made a real difference,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Winter Response Shelters will help homeless people in Vancouver

The City of Vancouver is increasing its homeless advocacy and outreach services by expanding the reach of its Homeless Outreach Team to be citywide, and appointing a new Director of Services for the Homeless.

“The City’s goal is to ensure that no one has to sleep on the streets at night. Our expansion of new homeless shelters, interim housing, and permanent housing have made a real difference,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “By expanding and improving how the City does outreach to its most vulnerable residents, we can help people get off the street faster and into a home that meets their needs. That’s how we can build a stronger, more caring Vancouver.”

“I’d also like to welcome Ethel Whitty into her new role as Director of Services for the Homeless, who will be overseeing the City’s work to expand outreach and support for our homeless residents.”

New citywide Homeless Outreach Team

The City will coordinate the work of its Tenant Assistance Program, which started in the late-1980s to support displaced seniors in Kerrisdale, with that of the Homeless Outreach Team, currently under the direction of the Carnegie Centre, to create the citywide outreach service.

The Homeless Outreach Team, a partnership between the City of Vancouver and BC Housing, will have the capacity and authority to locate the homeless and directly connect them to housing and income services. This team will liaise with other outreach teams and shelter providers across the city. It will also work closely with other City departments, such as Vancouver Police, Engineering Services, Park Board Rangers, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, Vancouver Public Library, Community Services, Building Inspections, and Facilities, to map locations of the homeless and identify outreach gaps.

New Director of Services for the Homeless

Ethel Whitty, the Director of the Carnegie Centre, will oversee this work as part of a new role as Director of Services for the Homeless. This new role will:

  • Coordinate citywide homeless outreach with the City’s Tenant Assistance Program
  • Deliver the annual Winter Shelter Response Strategy and Homeless Count
  • Plan Homelessness Action Week, HomeGround Festival, and the Homeless Connect events
  • Refer to and monitor the tenant mixes for the City and BC Housing’s 14 buildings on an ongoing basis
  • Manage community education and be a media spokesperson for the City’s homeless work and general needs of the homeless

Ethel Whitty is well placed to continue this work to address issues of homelessness. Building on nine years of experience as Director of Carnegie Centre where she oversees the work of the Centre’s Homeless Outreach Team and liaises with the low income community, she is in a position to understand the evolving situation on Vancouver streets, including the successes and challenges to providing housing.

“Nowhere is the concentration of homelessness in Vancouver as high as it is in the Downtown Eastside,” said Ms.Whitty. “Working at the heart of this community continues to give me insight into the magnitude of the obstacles the homeless face in their search for dry, warm, clean housing, nutritious food and a minimal income.”

Advisor to the Mayor on homeless issues

The new alignment and expansion of staff resources for homeless advocacy is part of a restructuring following the retirement of Judy Graves, who served as the City’s homeless advocate for over 20 years. Judy will continue to be an Emeritus Advisor to the Mayor on homeless issues, and will also meet with other cities that have asked to learn from Vancouver’s progress on homelessness.

“Vancouver is a city that has made incredible strides in caring for its most vulnerable, and we’ve helped hundreds of people move from the streets into warm, stable homes,” said Ms. Graves. “I’m proud to have served with the City in supporting its goals to end street homelessness, and look forward to continue working with the City and Mayor to improve our support for some of our most vulnerable residents.”

Find out how we are trying to end street homelessness by 2015

Housing and Homelessness Strategy, 2012-2021

housing-strategy

Read the complete Housing and Homelessness Strategy, and learn how Council is ending street homelessness while providing affordable housing for all residents.

Download the strategy