As our Board Chair, John McLernon, says, “While we don’t have any home runs this past year, we are hitting a lot of solid singles – providing multiple pathways out of homelessness.” Homelessness is a complex challenge that requires a multi-pronged strategy. An individual’s intentions and self-determination are at the heart of any strategy, and often, it can start with one goal, no matter how big or small, that, if addressed, can transform an individual’s life path.
The Supporting Tenants, Enabling Pathways (STEP) program, which supports tenants in their intention to move out of supportive housing and into affordable housing and on with their lives, was launched late last year. A year later, the on-going pilot has been largely successful. The support Elliot received through the STEP program has been instrumental in changing his life and building a more promising future by facilitating his move into independent housing. The supportive housing units vacated through the program subsequently welcome homeless individuals coming from shelters, freeing up additional spaces for people to come in, out of the cold. Each move therefore has the potential to improve the lives of three individuals.
The Vancouver Rent Bank has also been making enhancements that will ensure its existing limited resources reach increasing numbers of vulnerable individuals including children, youth, families, couples, adults and seniors. These enhancements will be shared with rent banks across the province ensuring that vulnerable people faced with a one-time extraordinary financial hardship everywhere are able to retain their housing and prevent homelessness. Homelessness prevention is a strong focus for Streetohome and our current efforts are directed at filling gaps in the homelessness service system with sustainable solutions.
The holiday season brings a moment to pause and reflect on the past year, and we would like to thank our hardworking and committed 16-member Board, comprised of public and private sector leaders, for their guidance and support in driving all of our initiatives. Kevin Bent, a founding board member, serves as co-chair of a new Streetohome Board Committee that oversees the brokering and leveraging of innovative addiction recovery options to provide additional pathways out of homelessness. Kevin’s passion for his community, and addressing the immediate challenges we face, comes through in his responses to our recent Q&A.
As we move into 2019, we look forward to building upon our many successes. Our successes are the result of a solid collaboration with our partners – BC Housing, the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Coastal Health – and the amazing generosity of our donors. From all of us at Streetohome, we wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season.