Abbotsford BC (Abbotsford News) – Abbotsford will receive federal funds to support a new co-ordinated intake and referral system for those who are homeless.
The city will receive $400,989 in funding over three years from the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), announced Abbotsford MP Ed Fast – on behalf of Candice Bergen, minister of state for social development – at The Reach today (Saturday).
The project will create the intake system using best practices from other cities. The city will also work with social support agencies.
The project is intended to provide a foundation on which Abbotsford can launch a housing first approach and provide a template for other similar-sized cities to do the same.
Housing first is a concept that focuses on getting homeless people under a roof as soon as possible, providing stability before addressing other potential issues such as mental health or drug use.
Fast told The News that Abbotsford has been challenged with “finding an effective way of addressing the homelessness problem in Abbotsford.”
He said the provincial government has recently provided support for shelter, the city has taken on a significant role to address the issue, and now the federal government will provide funds.
The aim of the intake centre is to identify the highest priority needs and prioritize clients for housing first intervention, said Fast.
The last few years have “highlighted the fact that Abbotsford is not immune to the challenge of homelessness. We’ve had some high profile attention paid to Abbotsford.”
But he said he believes city council is “genuinely committed to addressing that challenge.”
But not all were supportive of the announcement.
Pivot Legal Society, which is involved in a lawsuit along with the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors against the City of Abbotsford regarding its bylaws against camping in parks, Tweeted following the announcement that it promises “no shelter, no housing, no plan.”
A subsequent Tweet stated, “Stand with Abbotsford’s homeless. Join them in calling for a national strategy to #endhomelessnessnow.”