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Winter Response Shelter Strategy

Winter Response Shelters will help homeless people in Vancouver
Winter Response Shelters will help homeless people in Vancouver

We are committed to ensuring all residents have a safe, warm place to come inside to during the cold winter months.

Over the last eight winters, the City of Vancouver and BC Housing have partnered to open temporary winter shelters so people experiencing homelessness can find the support they need.

Winter shelters save lives by connecting homeless residents with necessary health, social, and housing services. Since 2009 almost 1,000 people facing homeless have been housed from shelters and the street.

We are committed to ensuring that winter shelters are well managed, safely, and responsibly.

Contact us about winter response shelters

604-673-8291

housing@vancouver.ca

Winter shelter dates

Winter shelters in Vancouver are opened mid-November and close no later than April 30.

Related project

Watch: Homeless Update 2015

2016-2017 winter shelters to open 190 beds

October 25, 2016 – This winter 190 beds will become available at 6 temporary winter shelter locations in Vancouver, thanks to funding from the BC Government and the City of Vancouver.

Shelter address Beds Opening hours Operator
134 E Cordova St 40, for men and women

8:00pm to 8:00am,
7 days per week,
starting October 14

Salvation Army
119 E Cordova St 30, for men only 24 hours,
7 days per week,
starting November 1
Salvation Army
49 W Cordova St 30, for men and women 9:00pm to 9:00am,
7 days per week,
starting November 1
Portland Hotel Society
1648 E 1st Ave 40, for men and women 24 hours,
7 days per week,
starting November 15
RainCity Housing and Support Society
1401 Hornby St 40, for men and women 24 hours,
7 days per week,
starting December 1
RainCity Housing and Support Society
1138 Burrard St 10, for male and female youth 9:00pm to 6:30am,
7 days per week,
starting December 1
Directions Youth Services

Learn more about the shelter operators:

2016-2017 Public consultation events

We invited the community to participate in two community dialogue events on November 7 and November 15, 2016.

 Space is limited – please register in advance by email to housing@vancouver.ca

Previous updates: 2012 – 2015

Notification letters for local residents and businesses

Property owners, residents, and businesses near a winter response shelter are notified before the shelter opens, both in writing and orally. View the letters they received:

Operations management plans

Each winter response shelter has an operations management plan outlining how the shelter will be operated and who to contact with concerns (contact information is included in the plans).

How Winter Response Shelters help

Experienced shelter operators

RainCity Housing, Salvation Army, Portland Hotel Society, and Directions Youth Services are skilled and experienced in operating Winter Response Shelters. In addition to their permanent shelters, RainCity has operated the temporary shelters since winter 2009.

Each shelter has an Operations Management Plan. The plan is a condition of the development permit, and outlines how the shelter will be operated and who to contact should a concern arise. 

Go to the Documents tab for a link to the Operations Management Plan for your area.

Reducing conflict

In past experience, winter shelters have attracted individuals already residing in the neighbourhood.

When Winter Response Shelters are open, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Area has reported a reduction in the number of people sleeping on the street, and a corresponding reduction in street disorderly behaviour, including aggressive panhandling, open drug use, and trespassing on private property. 

Welcoming feedback

The City, Province, and shelter operators will continue to respond to any issues that arise. Any concerns that are raised will be addressed as quickly and fully as possible.

Contact the City using the contact information on the right side of the page. Or go to the Documents tab, and click on the notification letter for contacts with the City, RainCity, and BC Housing.

The City, province, and shelter operators will continue to respond to any issues that arise. Any concerns that are raised will be addressed as quickly and fully as possible.

Contact the City using the contact information on the right side of the page. Or go to the Documents tab, and click on the notification letter for contacts with the City, RainCity, and BC Housing.

Background

The City and province have partnered to provide shelter to homeless people living in areas not adequately serviced with shelter spaces during cold-weather months since the winter of 2008 / 2009.

2007 Memorandum

The City and province signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007. As part of this agreement, 1,500 units of housing are being constructed on 14 City-owned sites. 

13 of the 14 projects have been completed - a total of 1,418 units. The province agreed to fund 100 transition housing spaces until the remaining supportive housing developments are completed.

Dawn Bergman's legacy

On 19 December 2008 Dawn Bergman, aka Tracy, died when a candle ignited her shopping cart. She was homeless and had turned down police offers of help because she was worried she would lose the cart that carried all her belongings. At the time, most shelters did not allow people to store their belongings.

A 2009 Coroner's Report identified the need for locations where people living on the streets could secure their buggies and carts.

Winter Response Shelters address this need, and serve people near the places where they reside.

Increasing resources for homeless people

The additional shelter spaces opened each winter by the City and province are in addition to Extreme Weather Response spaces funded by BC Housing, which are open from November 1 to March 31 every year.