Er, it's about time, folks. The City kick starts HEAT shelter consultations after 7 months
After some significant urging from the public, and considerable discussion here on CityCaucus.com, the City of Vancouver is finally kick-starting the public consultations for the HEAT shelter on Howe Street. A media release from Corporate Communications (soon to be no longer headed by Laurie Best) was issued this afternoon:
City seeks resident and public input on Howe Street HEAT shelter
The City today launched a public consultation process to receive feedback on the operation of the Howe Street HEAT shelter.
The shelter is funded by the Ministry of Housing and Social Development through BC Housing until July 31, 2009. The consultation process will help the Province determine whether the shelter will stay open.
Several meetings will be held with neighbourhood residents, businesses, and service providers to hear potential solutions for housing the homeless and shelter operations.
Area residents, businesses and the public are encouraged to fill in an online survey linked to the City's homepage at vancouver.ca.
While the timeframe for a decision on the immediate future of the Howe shelter is short, there will be more opportunity to provide feedback if funding for the shelter is extended. The web page will be an ongoing feedback tool for consultation about homelessness as well as interim and permanent housing solutions.
The 38 bed shelter provides basic accommodation for people who have been sleeping outside on the street, in front of businesses and in parks. This and other shelters provide the first step in moving homeless citizens from the street to housing. The City is continuing to work closely with the Province and the private sector to put in place interventions which move people from the street to housing as rapidly as possible.
To learn more about the City's housing strategy, visit vancouver.ca
It will be interesting to get some early reaction from the False Creek North citizen's group, which we'll post here later. The City have posted an online survey featuring a smiling toothless old man with a dog as a symbol of homelessness. If it was only hobos in Howe Street, we doubt there would be that much noise from the community.
Instead it's a host of issues that have plagued these facilities, such as needles left in gardens, public lewdness and defecation, and open drug dealing. Any neighbourhood in the city would not welcome this, so it's unfair to accuse False Creek North residents of being elitist.
There is also a weaselly tone to this release that makes it sound like it's the Province's shelter, not the City's brainchild. No matter, it's about time City Council listened to the public about how to implement these shelters responsibly.