Vancouver receives $4.9 million of federal funding to support residents most impacted by COVID-19
Grant to be used for key initiatives including increased washroom access and additional shelter spaces
We are extremely grateful to Minister Ahmed Hussen and the Government of Canada as well as Lu’ma Native Housing for their support though the Reaching Home program.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart
We acknowledge we are on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
The City of Vancouver, after receiving $4.9 million in funding from Lu’ma Native Housing Society on behalf of the Service Canada’s Reaching Home program, is installing two new washroom trailers, extending hours at several City facilities and completing renovations to support the creation of a new 60-bed temporary shelter.
The funding will also enable the City to continue operations of three existing washroom trailers that have been a success in supporting people to access basic hygiene services during COVID.
“COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Vancouver’s most marginalized neighbours, forcing reductions in shelter capacity and leading to fewer washrooms open to the public or accessible to people without homes," said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. "That’s why we are extremely grateful to Minister Ahmed Hussen and the Government of Canada as well as Lu’ma Native Housing for their support though the Reaching Home program.”
This $4.9 million in funding allows us to create safe and accessible washrooms that will help to address sanitation gaps. On top of that, it will allow us to renovate and open 60 new temporary shelter beds so that people experiencing homelessness have more options to stay safe and warm,” Mayor Stewart added.
“Unsheltered homeless populations in Vancouver have endured the greatest hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Indigenous people make up the majority of this population based on the most recent homeless count” stated David Wells, Chair of the Indigenous Homelessness Steering Committee. “Supporting the provision of additional washroom facilities and temporary housing, is a critical response that we can make to addressing some of the hardships being experienced by those experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Vancouver.”
The first of the new washroom trailers will be installed in mid-February at 1115 Hornby Street, next to the Murray Hotel, in response to community feedback about the critical need for additional facilities in the Downtown South neighbourhood.
The trailer, which will have five stalls, free menstrual products and needle collection containers, will be staffed by Atira Property Management Inc. with support from peers. The facility will increase safety by reducing the risk of overdose in high-risk locations such as unmonitored washrooms.
“COVID-19 has negatively impacted opening hours for many support services and reduced capacity in community spaces, leaving people without access to basic needs,” said Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira. “Opening a safe, accessible washroom trailer will not only provide dignity to people who have been forced to use alleys and cover from doorways, it will help make them feel safer, and reduce the impact restricted services have had on the neighbourhood.”
In addition to the new facilities, the City is expanding hours for current monitored washrooms in the following locations:
- Gathering Place, 998 E 19th Ave (9:00am – 11:45pm)
- David Lam Park, 1300 Pacific Boulevard (6:00am – 11:00pm)
- English Bay Beach Park, 1790 Beach Ave (6:00am – 11:00pm)
- Sunset Beach, 1204 Beach Ave (6:00am – 11:00pm)
The Reaching Home funding received from Lu’ma also ensures the continued operation of three existing washroom facilities that are staffed by peers from WISH, RainCity Housing and Overdose Prevention Society. People accessing these washrooms have reported feeling safer and more supported, and local residents have welcomed the facilities as they have led to a reduction in sanitation issues, noise complaints and overdose risk in the area.
While the majority of the $4.9 million will be used to improve access to washrooms and hygiene, $1.8M will fund lease and renovation costs of a new 60-bed shelter. The City is currently awaiting confirmation of Provincial operating funding for this location and several other accommodation options for people experiencing homelessness that are scheduled to open in the coming months.