Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm co-ordinating Homelessness Action Week events this October on behalf of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, including our second annual Project Connect. Here's the press release that will be going out tomorrow - if you're interested in contributing to the week, please see the list of needs below. And if you can volunteer your time for Project Connect on Oct. 14, please let me know. Hope to see you there!

Sept. 14, 2009

Service day for street community helps prep for winter cold

A service fair next month for people living homeless and in poverty returns for another year with even more on offer for hundreds in the capital region preparing for a cold, wet winter on the streets.
Almost 600 people attended Project Connect last year, an all-day event sponsored by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and its partners across the region. Organizers are preparing for even higher numbers for this year’s, to be held Oct. 14 at Our Place. The popular event, part of Homelessness Action Week (Oct. 11-17), provides one-stop access to a wide variety of services and food for people living in deep poverty and homelessness in our region.
“We bring key community services into the same room for a day and make it as easy as possible for people coming to the event to find the support they need,” says Jody Paterson, who’s co-ordinating Homelessness Action Week activities this year on behalf of the Coalition.
“So we’ll have the street nurses there, and people doing footcare, and help for people needing to get on income assistance, replace missing ID, or connect with the major outreach teams working in the downtown. But we’ll also have haircuts, veterinarian care, acupuncture, resume-writing and a whole lot of food, which means the day is also about helping people have a good time for a few hours.”
Donations of all kinds are most welcome. The Coalition is organizing a backpack drive in local secondary schools, and hopes that every Project Connect participant leaves the event with a backpack filled with donations from the community: socks, gloves, toques, scarves, grooming products, feminine hygiene, toothbrushes and toothpaste, reading glasses.
Please drop off Project Connect donations at Our Place, 919 Pandora Ave., any morning Sept. 21-24, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ask to be directed to the Project Connect volunteers.
The Coalition is also looking for haircutters willing to volunteer a few hours that day, having seen last year that haircuts were one of the most sought-after services. Volunteers in general will be needed to help out at Project Connect and in the coming weeks; contact Deb Nilsen at to get involved. The Capital City Lions Club will return for a second year for a day-long burgers-and-dogs barbecue.
The Coalition is a non-profit community-based partnership of agencies that work together to end homelessness in Greater Victoria. More than 400 people were housed and supported last year through the collective efforts of coalition member agencies, and almost 400 more units of housing and shelter are now underway.
Visit the Coalition's Web sitefor more on the coalition. For information on Project Connect and Homelessness Action Week events, contact Jody Paterson at

Homelessness Action Week events
Oct. 11-17, 2009

Here are a few of the events being organized by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and other service providers in the region. Keep an eye on the Coalition’s Web site at for more information on events as the date draws closer.

• An art show featuring the art and music of people who have experienced homelessness, including selected works from the Street Voice Project. Friday, Oct. 16, 7-10 p.m. at the Victoria Conservatory of Music.
• A forum for leadership students throughout the region led by a panel of people who have experienced homelessness. Tuesday, Oct. 13, venue and time TBA.
• Tours of service agencies and other organizations working in the area of homelessness, including the new Access Health Centre and Woodwynn Farm
• Landlord Appreciation Day, sponsored by Pacifica Housing
• Public premiere of the documentary 40 Years of Cool Aid Culture

About the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness:
Formed in 2008, our diverse non-profit coalition is made up of representatives of all key organizations whose work relates to homelessness, including service providers, government ministries, police, funders, the health authority and elected officials. We work to find housing and support for people living homeless using a “housing first” approach, and also to stop the flow of new people onto our streets by addressing the root causes of homelessness.
The cost of people living homeless is estimated at $50,000 annually per person - a total of $75 million a year in our region alone based on an estimated homeless population of 1,500. Housing people and providing the supports they need not only improves their quality of life and community connection, but reduces the enormous social, health, justice and sanitation costs of homelessness.

A few highlights from the past year:
• More than 400 people housed and supported through the collective efforts of coalition member agencies - significantly exceeding the target of 250
• 130 additional rent supplements for our region from BC Housing
• 15 new adult detox/residential treatment beds brought on by the Vancouver Island Health Authority, for a total of 21 in the region
• The forging of a new partnership merging the Coalition and the Victoria Steering Committee on Homelessness, bringing $1.2 million in federal contributions to the Coalition over the next two years.
• Some 367 units of supportive and transitional housing in the works or newly available, including a shelter under construction on Ellice Street and supported housing units on Humboldt and Swift streets

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