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.
Transgender and gender non-conforming people are much more likely to be experiencing poverty or homeless than the average person, almost twice as many as the general population. Discrimination or harassment from service providers, or rejection from their families and gender segregated shelters can all lead to ending up on the street.
This can also impact other basics people might take for granted, like accessing proper health care or an education. The best way to ensure the safety, proper health, and emotional wellbeing of young LGTBQ2S+ people is by providing housing that respects young people’s identity and life choices. But it’s more than housing and employment. It’s an anti-suicide measure for our young people. It’s about building a community of care for our young people.
What’s the project?
The two year pilot project will provide housing with supports and employment to LGBTQ2S+ youth between 18 and 25 in a residential setting and will utilize a LGBTQ2S+ advisory group to develop best practices with youth. We will connect youth with older members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, the goal being to provide safe, lifelong ‘chosen family’ or mentorship with mutual benefit for all parties.
The project will be evaluated externally by the McCready Centre Society, who have extensive experience with youth homelessness, specifically LGBTQ2S+ homeless youth. This project will be the first in Canada and we want to make sure it’s not the last!
Why is RainCity interested?
RainCity Housing and Support Society has been a leading housing provider since 1982, offering housing, support and outreach to a diverse group of people. While providing these services to specific demographics, such as housing for women and folks with multiple diagnoses, we honour the unique challenges they face due to systemic oppression. We focus on people’s strengths, believe strongly in community involvement, and learn from our experiences, pursuing an anti-oppressive framework that respects the communities we have the pleasure of working with everyday. Our hiring ethic has aided us in developing a unique competency in servicing the LGBTQ2S+ community, increased our knowledge of LGBTQ2S+ barriers, history and queer theory, and led to increased representation within our staff group.
How can I help?
We already have a commitment of half the funds needed thanks to a very generous grant from The Vancouver Foundation. We are seeking matching funds in order to make this project a reality and we’re asking people like you for your help. Your financial support will ensure that LGBTQ2S+ youth can live in a safe, supported environment – the first in Vancouver, the first in Canada!
Here in Vancouver, Canada’s QMUNITY and Vancity marked this year’s celebrations with the 8th Annual International Day Against Homophobia Breakfast on May 17 at the Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver and the theme was “Queering the Workplace: How LGTB Inclusion is Good for Business”.
And this evening, Vancouver’s Rainbow Refugee Committee is having a benefit tonight where they will be showing 3 short films on queer refugees followed by a Q & A with filmmaker and NGO journalist Paula Stromberg. The event starts at 7pm, suggested donation at the door is $10, or donate what you can. It’s at the Rhizome Cafe, 317 East Broadway near Main.
But how does IDAHO relate to homelessness? Yesterday the Tyee wrote about a Queer and Trans Poverty Study, a research project that’s being done by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. Studies have been done in other major centres in North America, showing that the queer and trans community is over represented in homeless populations. We definitely experienced that at some of our temporary shelters over the past three years, but this study could go a long way to back this up and lead to more solutions. Check it out!
How are you celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia?
We need 10 to 12 volunteers with musical experience, and 10 to 12 volunteers to help with everything that happens behind the scenes. You’ll be joining RainCity support staff and a core group of Girls Rock Camp organizers to make this the most amazing rock camp ever! Transgendered, Gender Variant and Gender Queer folks are more than welcome!
Inspirational and information rich training by long time social advocate Vikki Reynolds, PHD, RCC and Hayley Sinclair, Peer Programs Coordinator, Vancouver Coastal Health.
Probably the MOST FUN EVER and an opportunity to work AND learn from some of the toughest and most rad campers you can ever hope to meet!
If you have any questions about volunteering or the camp itself, you can contact Aaron, Tara, or Danielle.
That’s what Executive Director Mark Smith said when he was asked by CNN about how Vancouver (and RainCity Housing) is addressing homelessness. He was referring to how many more people were inside – almost 80% more – when comparing the numbers from the latest Metro Vancouver Homelessness Count (2011) to the count that was done in 2008.
While it isn’t a home, providing a low barrier shelter is a great way to bring people inside that have been living on the street for years. Once inside, a person can stop wondering where the next meal is coming from, or if they’ll be safe when they’re sleeping, and start to focus on locating affordable housing, like our Lux Apartments, or make friends that can become room mates, and then pool their resources in order to make a place more affordable.
Providing low barrier shelters and building new housing like the Lux or the Budzey Building – these are great ways to address homelessness!
Three months from today I will be running the Soctiabank Vancouver Half-marathon. A half-marathon is about 21 kilometers. So this morning I went for a run, to get ready, but I definitely didn’t run 21 kilometers. In fact, I don’t think I could, or if I did I’d either be risking personal (maybe even permanent injury) or it would take a really, really long time. Probably both.
I’m choosing to take time, each week running a little further, a little longer, shortening the periods of walking in between the spats of running, and doing it all in a gradual, healthy, and mindful way so that when June 24 shows up, I’ll be ready. First I chose the goal, and then I decided how I would reach it.
The same kind of steps can be applied for other choices people make, like choosing to stop using drugs. While some individuals can stop using substances on the spot, a lot of folks can’t, including those who have been using for a long time. There are many safe ways, like methadone maintenance, where a person can gradually reduce the amount of drugs they use, until the day they are drug free. This is Harm Reduction at work, and so is choosing to switch from something like crystal meth to pot or alcohol, both options doing far less damage and are therefore healthier choices. But the choice has to be theirs.
If I started running or stopped using substances because someone else told me I had to, the personal gain wouldn’t really be mine; I couldn’t take credit for the change or the gain, because it’s wasn’t my choice. And if I didn’t succeed, I could blame someone else.
Choice. Action. Results. This happens so many times each day that we lose count, and we’re either better or worse off each time. But when the choice to act is our own, the success is also our own, and personal success leads to improved self-confidence and self-respect, which can lead to more success.
What choices did you make today. What were the results?
Good news! It’s the 101st International Women’s Day, and there are many ways to celebrate. You can attend the City of Vancouver’s Remarkable Women event this evening, or the Women in Film Festival that starts today, and many others.
Bad news – last week the Metro Vancouver Homelessness Count released their final numbers, and while the overall numbers didn’t change, the female share of the homeless population increased. In the 2005 count, one in four counted was female but in 2011 it was nearly one in three. And the number of homeless families counted increased; 56 homeless families with 54 children were found, the highest number of families ever recorded in a Count, the majority of these families led by single mothers.
Good news! In only a few short months we’ll be breaking ground for our newest and biggest building, the Budzey Building (named after Lorna Budzey). 147 units! And the best part? All the units are for women! 101 units will be studio suites for women on their own, and 46 units will be two and three bedroom units for single mother led families. We’re really excited about this, as both the building and the women and families living there will have a positively huge (and hugely positive) impact on the Downtown Eastside.
What good news will you celebrate on International Women’s Day?
Yesterday we headed out to Seaquam Secondary in Delta. But we weren’t sure we would make it. One of the car’s warning lights had come on (something resembling a radiator) and it was determined to stay on. Neither Fran or I are very mechanically inclined, but we topped up the radiator and crossed our fingers. Oh, and it was desperately trying to snow…
But we made it, and it was so worth it! For the second year now, a group of students that this year included the amazing trio of Tiffany Jeen, Riyanka Minhas, and Jocelyn Tsai, have arranged a unique kind of fundraiser, ‘A Dare to Remember’. The students vote on which teachers they want to participate in funny, humbling, maybe even embarrassing performances, and the teachers with the most votes are committed to doing a dare to remember. But their votes cost money. This year they raised over $1000 for RainCity Housing!
I don’t know about you, but when I was in high school, I was selling chocolate covered almonds so I could go on a band trip, not raising money for someone else. And I don’t think I even knew what homelessness was.
So we were able to thank everyone that cared and dared, we laughed and laughed, and were reminded once again that anyone, any age, can do something to help end homelessness. Oh, and the car did make it back, even though the light stayed on.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. You probably knew that. But it’s also an incredibly important day in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. 21 years ago the first Feb 14th Women’s Memorial March was held to honour and remember the women that have died from violence of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse.
It’s also to remind us that changes still need to be made in order to make every neighbourhood safe for every person. Visit their site to find out what action the Feb 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee and others are taking internationally in order to address this.
Last year Alejandro Zuluaga and Harsha Walia made an amazing short film, “Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside” that documents the 20 year history of the annual women’s memorial march for missing and murdered women in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. We posted a link to this amazing video last year. It’s definitely worth watching again and sharing online.
On Valentine’s Day come out to show your love and support. And remember.
We’ve been hanging out at our facebook page lately and so long overdue with an update of what’s new at RainCity.
While our ‘Streetmelt’ campaign didn’t make it to the finals, it did generate a lot of interest and support in this social enterprise idea. It’s now in a redevelopment stage and we would love any creative, logistical or financial input that would take it closer to becoming a reality. Call or email us!
On November 21, we had a Folding Party for our annual appeal. The gorgeous package was conceived and designed by Flipside Creative – all for free! And many of their staff, along with several other volunteers, made up the Folding Party group that assembled 6000 packages. Thank you, Flipside, and our volunteers that made this happen. Maybe one of your neighbours got one in the mail. Or maybe you did. Tell us what you think!
Our Donor Recognition Event on Nov 28 was warm, well attended and wonderful. We decorated Heritage Hall on Main Street with art hanging from clotheslines, made grill cheese sandwiches fresh right in the hall, had a park bench and street buskers – we brought the outside inside. Let us know what you thought if you attended, and thank you once again to all of our donors.
You might have heard in the news that all three of our temporary shelters are now up and running and each one filled up within days of opening. That’s 120 people that are now inside and no longer living on the street or in other unsafe situations. One is a reopened location, 1442 Howe Street, and opened on Dec 5. The other two are new; the Marble Arch opened on Dec 15 and is a renovated Hotel at 518 Richards with the shelter set up in what was once the pub, and the other is at 2950 Prince Edward, near Mount St Joseph’s Hospital, and opened on Dec 21.
Earlier this month we found out we were chosen to design and run a supported housing development in Coquitlam. It will be two programs – a 30 bed emergency shelter, and a transitional housing program with 30 studio suites for folks that are homeless. But it will be crucial to build healthy relationships with our partners, our neighbours and the larger community and we look forward to doing just that.
So thank you to all that made all of the above possible this past year. It takes more than a building, or a nonprofit, or even a city to end homelessness. It takes all of us.