What's New

3030 Gordon Avenue January 2015 Update!

We promised to provide updates to this project and here is the first! The construction is moving along quickly. After the ground clearing the pile driving began, and we’re very grateful that our future neighbours took the constant hammering during that step it in stride. Now the foundation is being formed and the building will soon began to take shape.

Presenting to Council

On Monday, January 12, our Associate Director overseeing this project, Sean Spear, presented a delegation to City of Coquitlam’s Mayor and Council in order to provide an update on the 3030 Gordon Avenue project. The Mayor stressed the importance of working cohesively with the established service providers in the Tri-Cities. We look forward to making new partnerships and have already enjoyed over two years as active members of the Tri-Cities Homelessness and Housing Task Group.

In the news!

You can read about the project and our delegation to Council in the the Tri-Cities Now. And look for more stories about this project in the Tri-Cities media in the coming months!

Reaching out…

We will be reaching out to the neighbouhood in the coming weeks to introduce ourselves, provide a little info, and find out if folks living near the project want to receive email updates on the project, or consider becoming members of the Community Advisory Committee, or CAC. This committee will be formed prior to the building opening its doors, and will be a forum RainCity and our neighbours to freely exchange information, celebrate successes, and discuss issues and concerns that may impact the neighbours, ultimately working towards constructive solutions.

Be a part of it!

If you wish to receive updates on this project via email, or are thinking of becoming a member of the CAC, please email Bill Briscall at bbriscall@raincityhousing.org and let him know what your interest is.

Stay tuned for the next update!


Newsflash! How to learn about Housing First – and quick!

It’s all right here! Well, actually right here, where today we’ve officially launched our ‘Housing First: Principles to Practice’ toolkit, a workshop that explains in nuanced ways what the Housing First model is and how it works.

On that page you’ll find the five videos, each one explaining one of the five principles of Housing First and how to incorporate them into your work, teach them to others, or just have a better understanding of this successful approach to ending homelessness.

If you’re part of a nonprofit that provides housing or services to homeless folks, the Workbook and Facilitator’s Guide are absolutely free! Just email us and we’ll send you the password and links to the PDFs of the Workbook and Facilitator’s Guide so you can go through the workbook on your own, or put on the workshop for your coworkers.

And be sure to tell others about it.

And let us know what you think!


To house, or not to house – that is the question!

A simple question. With complex and heartfelt answers.

The video clip above and the pictures below are to give you just a taste of the original, honest and at times hilarious production of ‘Much Ado About Something!’ You have not seen anything else like this before and you only have until October 16 – two days! – to get tickets from Eventbrite. There may still be some at the door, so if you are unable to purchase tickets online, please bring cash to the theatre or better yet, call us at 604.375.9130 to make arrangements.

  • Where? Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright St, Granville Island
  • When? Thursday, Oct 16, 7pm sharp!
  • How much? $10!
  • Why? To stimulate dialogue and new understandings around issues of homelessness!

See you on Thursday – don’t be late!

It’s time to make some space!

We are ready to take our first physical steps to address homelessness in Coquitlam.

Over the next few weeks, crews will be clearing the trees at 3030 Gordon in Coquitlam so construction can start in September/October for our newest building. In order to lessen the environmental footprint, trees will be assessed for milling and potential use for benches, vegetable planters and fencing for the project, and there’s now talk of mulch and composting! The new greenery will include trees, bushes and grasses.

In January of this year Coquitlam City Council approved the development plans for the building, and the next step is the building permit approval. Once completed, it will provide 30 units of transitional housing, 30 emergency shelter rooms, and during extreme weather conditions an additional 30 shelter beds in dormitory rooms – all in the same building!

Providing this kind of shelter and housing has been a priority for the City of Coquitlam, the Tri-Cities Homelessness Task Group and BC Housing for a number of years. We are incredibly excited to be the operator of this building and that the project is soon moving off the ‘drawing board’ and into construction.

RainCity Housing will be providing support services for the shelter residents, including meals, counseling, life skills development and connections to community health and wellness services. Our staff have been active members of the Tri-Cities

Homelessness Task Group over the past 3 years, and we look forward to working with many of the service providers in the Tri-Cities.

We will have a dedicated page to this upcoming project before the end of the month, so be sure to come back and check it out. If you have any questions about this project, you can email Associate Director Sean Spear at sspear@raincityhousing.org

Together we can end one of the last acceptable stigmas in Vancouver

It’s up and running! And we love it! The Open Your Heart website invites you to be curious, think about how we interact in the world, and start addressing one of the last socially acceptable stigmas – mental illness. Click on ‘support’ or ‘accept’ and watch what happens to the people’s lives on screen. Mental illness affects so many of us, maybe even all of us, through friends, loved ones, and coworkers. We can start thinking differently about it.

And then there are the amazing stories, full of real experiences and little known facts. All six are on the NEWS – New Evolution of Wise Storytelling Youtube channel. Here’s just one:


Check these out, and visit our NEWS page here at our website to see who made all of this possible. And make sure to share theses links and videos with your friends and loved ones using your favourite social media platforms. We think that when more people are having different conversations about mental illness, the stigma will go away that much faster.

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.

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.