What's New

Coming April 23rd…

We cannot express how excited we are about this! Can’t wait until the 23rd!!

Do you live generously?

“You are better than no one,” the minstrel had proclaimed, “and no one’s better than you.” – Bob Dylan

If you’ve spent time reading comments below online news articles, or overheard conversations in coffee shops, or even been presented with throw away phrases at social gatherings, one would get the impression that the general public (whatever that means) generally feel that people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside or similar neighbourhoods in other cities fall into two distinct categories: either they’re just not working hard enough, or they’re beyond help. But it’s easy to compartmentalize.

After working over 20 years in this field, the reality that I have seen is human beings – not just folks experiencing homeless or poverty, but all of us – live in between those stereotypical extremes. We all have better days, and worse days. Every one of us needs some kind of help at some point in our lives, and the reverse also is true. And I don’t mean a Facebook ‘like, I’m talking about real, tangible generosity. Lawrence Scanlan writes about this at the Open Democracy website, spending a month with 12 different charities for a year. Have a read.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by work, relationships, by life, and to shut down at the end of the day, or the whole weekend. This is necessary sometimes.

But sometimes, we can be generous; with our time, our money, and most importantly with the way we think of others.

If we think of others as neither less than or better than, then we’ve changed the conversation. If we’re generous to others, then we remove the burden of them having to ask.


How can you protect someone who’s “invisible”?

On the eve of International Women’s day and the week before Vancouver’s annual homeless count, the federal government tabled a report entitled “Invisible Women: A Call to Action”. It wasn’t received well by aboriginal groups and the opposition parties who wanted a national inquiry in to the murdered and missing women across Canada.

In December of 2012, the Pickton Inquiry offered 63 recommendations. Over a year later, almost all of those recommendations still only exist on paper.

What can be done right now? Most of the women living in our transitional housing program for women are from an aboriginal background. They’re inside and they’re safer than they were outside. In a few months time, we’ll be opening the Budzey Building, 146 units of housing for women, including 40 family units, bringing more women out of invisibility. This is a step in the right direction.

Vancouver’s homeless count is a 24 hour snapshot that provides information but never the complete picture. Many people couch surf, stay with relatives, sleep in vehicles, or are almost always on the move.

The majority of the people using these survival tactics are women, who become “invisible”. They become invisible because in many ways, it’s safer – for them and in some circumstances, their children.


The federal government has 120 days to respond to the report. That’s a lot of nights at a shelter or sleeping draped over a steering wheel. With the right environment, living inside, in one place, can be much safer than the alternative. We just need more safe places.

Telling your story is so important.

Is it time for a new evolution of wise storytelling? We think it is. Stories that challenge the way we think about mental illness. Stories that give a human perspective on the facts. Facts like:

  • In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health problem or illness.
  • Up to 70% of young adults living with mental health problems report that symptoms started in childhood.
  • Percentage of people who are depressed who respond well to treatment – 80%
  • Percentage of people who are depressed who never seek treatment – 90%

Screenshot from the amazing PSA - coming soon!!


In the coming weeks NEWS and RainCity Housing will be launching a website that will share stories, start conversations and connect people that have lived in isolation. Come back to this site for the link or look for it on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

We ALL need your voice to fight stigma. The only way we can make real change is to do it together.

Tomorrow is the last day of an exhibit that shows just some of these stories. March 1, 11am to 6pm at Vivo, 1965 Main Street.

We’re about the open the Biltmore Hotel – really!

We are very happy to announce that the first tenants will be moving into our housing program at 395 Kingsway this Monday, Feb 24. Staff will begin working around the clock on Sunday, Feb 23, and if you need to get a hold of them please call the front desk:



A page devoted to information on this housing program will be available at this website very soon, so we can start blogging about all of the RainCity programs, initiatives, and stories, and not just this one. Stay tuned!


Biltmore Update!

Photo credit - Kevin Hill, Vancouver Courier

We’ve been really happy with all the media coverage this past week about our Biltmore program. The Province, Globe & Mail, Vancity Buzz, and the Courier all took time to visit us in order to share their stories with you. The Province also did a video interview of Acting Associate Director Amelia Ridgway and our Operations Manager, George Simpson, and they did a great job explaining how the building will operate, and how we plan to move forward.

We’ve had our first Biltmore Community Advisory Committee already, and the second one is next week. If you’d like to receive the minutes from those meetings, please email me and I’ll add you to the list.

Once the landline is confirmed, it will be here on our website along with all of our email contacts, so you can easily get a hold of us with questions, concerns, or ideas.

We still don’t have a confirmed move in date for tenants, but we hope it will be before the end of February. The City of Vancouver has posted a summary of the feedback and input community members provided the two open houses in January, and you can read that here.

Mount Pleasant is a great community, full of people who really care about everyone living there, and we are looking forward to being a part of that and caring right back!

Hello Mount Pleasant!

Please join us at one of this week’s Open Houses for the Biltmore Hotel. At these sessions we hope to get valuable input from people on how we can make this housing program an important part of Mount Pleasant and find ways to work together on how it intersects with the community.

The two Open Houses are:

  • Wednesday, Jan 8th, 6pm to 8pm – St Patrick’s High School Cafeteria, 140 E. 11th Ave
  • Saturday, Jan 11th, 10am to noon – Native Education College, 285 E. 5th Ave

After a brief introduction of the program and the partners, attendees will be able to break off into groups to discuss ways of finding the best possible outcomes for everyone, both the folks living in the building, and the surrounding community.

Also, on Thursday, January 9th at 6:30pm, the Residents Association of Mount Pleasant, or RAMP, is having a Community Forum for more discussion. It will be held at St Patrick’s Church, 2881 Main Street.

You can find additional information at the City of Vancouver’s website.

Hope to see many of you there! Vancouver has long prided itself on the diversity of its communities, and a great example of this is when people from various backgrounds co-exist together.




Nurse, Casual

The Nurse assesses, identifies, plans, implements and evaluates the nursing care required to assist ACT team clients in meeting their physical, social, spiritual and psychological needs. The Nurse works within the team’s interdisciplinary clinical framework to provide client centered and strengths based care in accordance with the CRNBC/CRPNBC Standards of Practice and consistent with the mission, vision and values and established policy and protocols of RainCity Housing and the ACT Team. The Nurse provides treatment services that are both inclusionary and flexible for individuals with mental illness, addictions and/or chronic medical conditions and ensures integration and continuity across the care continuum. The Nurse establishes and maintains relationships with, and consults with, service and housing providers, clients, their families and colleagues to provide appropriate treatment services based on best practices and client need. The Nurse performs duties such as, intake, mental and physical health and addictions assessment, treatment planning, crisis intervention, consultation,
and individual counseling.

Nursing and support services are often provided in non-traditional environments, such as the participant’s home, coffee shops, and community centres.  As ACT follows the Housing First model, supporting participants through evictions and moves is also a core component of the work, ensuring that learnings and skills from each housing are not lost.

Diversity: RainCity Housing serves a diverse group of people and we need a staff group that reflects the diversity. People of diverse backgrounds and cultures are encouraged to apply.

Qualifications: Minimum  education and experience includes:
Baccalaureate in Psychiatric Nursing
Current practicing registration with the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of British Columbia (CRPNBC).
Three (3) years’ recent related experience providing treatment services to individuals with mental health, addiction and chronic medical concerns,

Or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience.

Valid class 5 BC drivers license and acceptable drivers abstract. Requires use of a personal vehicle

Direct enquiries and resumes: contact ACT Team leader Jodie Foster jfoster@raincityhousing.org or the ACT Team at 604-675-2390

ACT is a transdisciplinary mental health team that has a client-staff ratio of 10:1, with 80% of the work occurring in the community. The Team includes a nurse practitioner, nurses, social workers, a counsellor, an Occupational Therapist, and Community support workers. Crisis support is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Program staff are closely involved in hospital admissions and discharges. The RainCity ACT team also provides housing opportunities for clients using a ‘housing first’ scattered site approach. Clients are offered immediate access to rent supplements so they have the opportunity to live in the same kinds of permanent independent apartments that are typically available to people without mental illness. Self-determination, choice and harm reduction are at the centre of all considerations with respect to the provision of housing and support services.

Homeless folks can choose to come indoors!

Last Sunday, in partnership with the City of Vancouver, we kicked off Homelessness Action Week with the premiere of locally-produced film shorts featuring firsthand accounts of participants of the RainCity ACT Team, their families and ACT Staff as the participants moved indoors, often for the first time in decades. It was at Café Deux Soleils on Commercial Drive and we had a full house. Check out the trailer and the Prezi!

‘Choice: The First Step Indoors’, which follows Vancouver’s Housing First Assertive Community Treatment Team, was produced by local filmmaker Gwen Haworth. After it screened, she moderated a panel made up of Vancouver Housing First Speaker’s Bureau members, who shared their personal lived experience of moving indoors. Our ACT staff were also on hand to answer questions and gave a short presentation. It was amazing!

NEWS – New Evolution of Wise Storytelling!

In collaboration with the Community Action Initiative and our community partners, RainCity Housing and Support Society has launched a project called NEWS – New Evolution of Wise Storytelling.

The goal of NEWS is to create opportunities for community members and media creators to come together to create inclusive and supportive stories about mental health, as a way to end the stigma associated with mental illness.

To kick off Mental Health Week, on May 7th and 8th, 2013, NEWS is hosting a Learning Exchange. We invite you to participate in this exciting and interactive event!

Listen. Learn. Share: A Learning Exchange

To kick off mental health week, NEWS is hosting a 2-day learning exchange that will bring together community members, media creators, and allies to create dialogue about how mental illness is portrayed in the media and how we can work together towards more socially inclusive ways of sharing stories. There will be interactive panel discussions, breakout sessions, and an art room. This is a free event.

Dates: Tuesday, May 7th and Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Time: 9:30am – 4:00pm, both days
Location: Chapel Arts Hall- 304 Dunlevy Ave., Vancouver, B.C.

The event will take place on the main floor which is wheelchair accessible. Any sessions that are offered upstairs (non-accessible) will also be offered on the main floor.

There will be delicious food catered by Salmon n’Bannock Bistro and a musical performance by Cris Derksen and edzieOo.

If you are a media person or service provider, please RSVP to Quinn up to a maximum of two persons per organization.

Community members do not need to RSVP, just drop by whenever you want!

Quinn Bennett, NEWS Project Consultant
E: qbennett@raincityhousing.org
T: 604.345.7163