First major Streetohome Foundation project breaks ground

62-unit building will support those with mental health challenges

VANCOUVER, Dec. 17 /CNW/ - Streetohome Foundation's promise to help build 1,000 new homes for those in need in Vancouver took a major step forward today, in partnership with the City of Vancouver and the Province of BC; the first shovels went into the ground at 1601 West 7th Avenue.

"We're very excited to see the start of a project that's going to make a difference in the lives of so many people," said John McLernon, Chair of the Streetohome Foundation. "In 18 months, what is now an empty lot will be home to 62 people who greatly need the care and support that this housing can provide."

Under construction at the corner of West 7th Avenue and Fir Street, this new nine-storey building will provide 62 apartments with integrated support services for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. It is the first of eight sites supported through a $20 million commitment from Streetohome Foundation.

"Supportive housing connects individuals with the services and supports they need in the community and this is a vital step in helping to break the cycle of homelessness," said Rich Coleman, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Minister Responsible for Housing. "This supportive housing development is the first with Streetohome and the seventh in our partnership with the City of Vancouver. I know that all the partners look forward to the next stage - opening these facilities and helping individuals begin new lives in the community." Launched with support from the Vancouver Foundation, the City of Vancouver, and the Province of BC, the Streetohome Foundation aims to bring all community partners together to find new and innovative solutions to homelessness in this city.

"We're making a real difference in turning the tide on homelessness through our partnerships with the Streetohome Foundation and the provincial government," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.  "Streetohome has been generous in its support of permanent supportive housing initiatives in Vancouver, and we're working together towards our goal of ending street homelessness by 2015. These kinds of partnerships between governments and the philanthropic sector are crucial to making effective, long-lasting positive change."

In January 2010, Streetohome Foundation launched a 10-Year Plan to break the cycle of homelessness in Vancouver, including the need for 2,000 new units of supported housing in Vancouver. In May 2010, Streetohome pledged $20 million to leverage a $205 million commitment from the Province of BC and a land contribution worth $32 million from the City, to create 1,000 new housing units for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Vancouver, as part of its overall $26.5 million capital campaign.

Each of the eight City sites funded through the partnership will focus on populations with specific needs, such as adults who are chronically homeless, youth, and individuals with mental health challenges. 1601 West 7th Avenue will be managed and operated by Katherine Sanford Housing Society. A community resource centre located on the first and second floors will provide services for mental health clients and will be operated by the MPA Society.

"The Katherine Sanford Housing Society believes that all individuals have a right to decent affordable housing that gives them dignity and independence," said Bonnie Rice, Executive Director of Katherine Sanford Housing Society. "Problems such as homelessness and mental illness exist in every community. These 62 new supportive housing units that will be built in Fairview Kitsilano will result in a healthier and more inclusive community for everyone.  We are very grateful to all the partners like the Streetohome Foundation for the funding support that has helped make it possible. "

The Streetohome Plan identifies a number of key strategies needed to help people access appropriate housing, and prevent people from becoming homeless. Projects such as this one include the important staffing and support needed to help individuals who have challenges staying in housing.

"MPA Society is proud to partner with Streetohome, Katherine Sanford Housing Society, BC Housing, Vancouver Coastal Health and the City of Vancouver in realizing the goal of breaking the cycle of homelessness," said David MacIntyre, Executive Director of MPA Society. "This project provides much needed housing while providing important social, recreational and other advocacy based services for adults living with mental illness."

Since 2009, Streetohome has committed more than $22 million in funding for a variety of projects, including the City's HEAT Shelters, Atira Society's London Hotel, the Mental Health Commission of Canada's At Home/Chez Soi project, and the Aboriginal Mother Centre.

About the partners:

Streetohome Foundation:

Streetohome Foundation is a community organization working to ensure that all citizens of Vancouver have access to safe, decent, affordable, supportive housing. We bring together business, government, service providers and community leaders to build resources and develop lasting solutions to homelessness. Current initiatives include funding and facilitating housing for individuals who are chronically homeless, people who require housing with supports, and for mothers with children. 

Katherine Sanford Housing Society:

Established in 1989, Katherine Sanford Housing Society is a registered charitable organization. The society's role is to advocate for housing for people with a mental illness and to develop innovative, efficient, and cost-effective housing that is responsive to the individual needs of people with a mental illness. Katherine Sanford Housing Society has developed 16 licensed community residences and three supported apartment projects accommodating more than 200 people in typical residential neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Richmond.

MPA Society:

MPA Society is a non-profit and registered charitable organization founded in 1971 by people experiencing the debilitating effects of mental illness and their supporters. The MPA Society with its long established history is a recognized leader in community mental health service program delivery and has been a proud member of the Kitsilano, Vancouver, Maple Ridge and Surrey communities for over 39 years.      

SOURCE STREETOHOME FOUNDATION

For further information: For further information:

Nicole Adams, Streetohome Foundation - 604.629.2711, ex 103 www.streetohome.org
Rhonda Nguyen, BC Housing - 604.439.4740; 604.374.8301
Corporate Communications, City of Vancouver - 604.871.6336

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STREETOHOME FOUNDATION

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