We are looking for people to join our Board! 

RainCity Housing wishes to acknowledge that we operate programs on the stolen, unceded, ancestral, traditional homelands of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm, q̓íc̓əy̓, qiqéyt, qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓, sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ, səl̓ílwətaʔɬ, SEMYOME, shíshálh, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, ˈstɔːloʊ and Xʷməθkwəy̓əm Nations.

The Opportunity 

We are seeking individuals to join our Board of Directors, ideally with prior board experience. We are actively recruiting Directors who reflect the diversity of the people that we work alongside and with experience/background in the following areas: 

  • Harm reduction philosophy and practices 
  • Poverty and homelessness including understanding of a ‘housing first’ approach  
  • Trauma 
  • Mental health and substance use challenges 
  • Not-for-profit community organizations 
  • A commitment to right relations with Indigenous communities and the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion 

The approximate hours required from Board Members can be up to 5-10 hours per month with a term length of two years. Board Members will have the option to renew at the Annual General Meeting in the month of June. 

Board meetings occur every other month.

Interested candidates are invited to submit a confidential CV to Mei Ng, Executive Assistant, mng@raincityhousing.org by February 2, 2024. 

Website: https://www.raincityhousing.org

Who We Are 

RainCity Housing is an organization that makes a difference in people’s lives. Our mission is to advance social equity by building upon the strengths of our community and of each individual. With a goal of providing a home for everyone, RainCity’s programs sustain relationships, strengthen communities, and make change for people experiencing homelessness, mental health issues, trauma, and substance use issues. 

RainCity Housing has been developing emerging and promising practices for over 40 years in social services and healthcare, providing Housing First, harm reduction and supports for community members who access our services. To learn more, check out our innovations page on our website: www.raincityhousing.org 

RainCity has been and continues to be deeply impacted by the ongoing Drug Poisoning public health crisis, a crisis that has continued unabated for more than 7 years. 

RainCity Housing serves a diverse group of people and is committed to social inclusion, equity, and diversity on its board, reflecting the diversity of the people that we work alongside. As an organization we are committed to our work towards being a decolonial and anti-racist organization.  

Our Vision 

A Home for Every Person” 

Our Board 

The RainCity Housing Society Board is a policy governance board (i.e. follows the Carver model), as opposed to an operational board. 

The role of the RainCity Housing’s Board of Directors is one of oversight and governance. Board officers are assigned responsibility for certain areas, but the Board carries out its responsibilities with one voice. We ensure that our activities and decisions are in alignment with the values and philosophies of RainCity Housing. 

Individual Board Member 

Each individual Board member shall ensure that they familiarize themselves with the duties and responsibilities they have as board members. Each Board member shall: 

  1. Be prepared to support the ethical obligations RainCity has towards the communities of people that RainCity serves. 
  2. Has read, understands and knows their part in the role of governance at RCH, which includes but is not limited to: 
    • Review, approve and keep up-to-date on the progress of the RCH’s Ends and Strategic Plan. 
    • Approve the annual budget, monitor budget variances and approve the Audited Financial Statements. 
    • Provide input into and sign-off on Board development activities. 
    • Provide input to Board evaluation. 
    • Develop, review and keep bylaws and policies current as RCH evolves. 
    • Approve changes to the Governance Manual. 
    • Monitor the Risk Registry and ensure that risk mitigation strategies are in place. 
  3. Be prepared to sit and participate on at least one Board Committee. 
  4. Attend all Board and Committee meetings. 
  5. Be prepared to participate in all Board meetings by reviewing Board package material. 
  6. Promote the services and programs of RCH to the community at large. 
  7. Participate in the recruitment of new Board members. 
  8. Abide by and support all Board decisions. 
  9. Commitment to personal work and growth to support RainCity Housing’s work towards being a decolonial and anti-racist organization.

We are standing up against anti-trans discrimination 

On September 20th there are rallies planned across the country directly attacking the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and the principles of equity and inclusion, principles which RainCity Housing continues to work to make real throughout the organization. In solidarity with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, RainCity is speaking out against these rallies both internally and externally.  

The planned events in BC specifically target SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)-inclusive education, which helps to represent the diversity of families. As an organization, we join with others to stand against hate and in full support of SOGI and related resources that make schools more inclusive, safe and welcoming for all. 

Throughout North America trans people continue to experience significant and ongoing discrimination in our communities. These experiences are also present within RainCity. As an organization we have much ongoing work to do to address this form of discrimination.

We recognize that this is a deeply painful and frightening time for our trans and queer friends and loved ones, and as an organization, we stand with you. The following is a list of local supports for 2SLGBTQIA+ community members:   

In response to the planned rallies there are counter-protests being organized by grassroots community groups in BC’s Lower Mainland. These three counter protests are being held on Wednesday, September 20th: 

  • Coquitlam — Coquitlam City Hall, Lot A 1299 Pinetree Way — 9 am 
  • Surrey — Education Minister’s Office, 9030 King George Boulevard — 12 noon 
  • Vancouver — Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street — 12 noon 

We encourage everyone to show their support in any way they can and show you stand up against hate and against anti-trans discrimination.

Foxglove is Open!

Foxglove is open! As of today, over 60 people have moved. 

BC Housing arranged a formal event on Thursday, April 21 where all levels of government attended to acknowledge publicly the need for places like Foxglove that have the added component of enhanced health supports that are on-site, like nurses and the Managed Alcohol Program. It also means we can create space for Indigenous staff and staff with lived experience to work one on one with people as they move into the building. 

The speakers included Randeep Sarai, Liberal MP for Surrey Centre; David Eby, Attorney General and Minister responsible for Housing; Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions; Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum; Norm Peters Fraser Health Regional VP; and MLA Rachna Singh as MC.  

The Surrey Now-Leader did a great story on Foxglove, along with a video interview our Co-ED Catharine Hume after the event, about Foxglove and RainCity’s role in how this building will be a unique endeavour for all partners involved. 

Back in the beginning of March, before anyone began working or living in the building, a prominent elder that works within the Surrey community came with his wife to the new Foxglove program to culturally cleanse the entire building. It signified a new beginning, an honouring of the ancestors on the land, and a positive start for when tenants enter their new home. 

What is Foxglove?  

Foxglove Supported Housing and Shelter is our first building in Surrey, located at 9810 Foxglove Drive. It’s also one of the first enhanced health supported housing programs in BC and includes three programs (shelter; supported housing; enhanced health supported housing) with RainCity and Fraser Health staff working alongside program participants to meet people’s health needs and connect people to culture and community. 

People living at Foxglove are from Surrey, are over the age of 19, and are either currently homeless or unstably housed, focusing on people who might benefit from access to on-site health, cultural and peer supports.  

There are 98 Supportive Housing units (96 studio suites and 2-one bedroom suites) and 34 people housed in supportive housing will have access to enhanced health supports. The shelter offers 31 units and one respite unit with three non-binary designated shelter units. 

All three programs have access to 24 hour/7 day a week support staff with access to a medication program, overdose prevention services, Indigenous cultural and Peer supports. People accessing enhanced health supports will have access to on-site and in-reach clinical services provided by Fraser Health.   

Thank you! 

A huge thank you and congratulations to all those who have made this building and its new programming a reality! And thank you to all of our partners, politicians, and people in the community who have shown and continue to show their support for this building! 

COVID-19 Response October 2020 Update (revised November 9)

Corona Virus Microscope Image

NEW: Due to the public health order issued on Nov 7, 2020, we’ve made temporary changes to the following information, dated Nov 9 to Nov 23 and in bold font.

Hello to everyone! We’ve been keeping our heads down, working hard during the pandemic, and wanted to provide an update on how we’re addressing COVID-19 at RainCity Housing, while at the same time address the ongoing opioid poisoning epidemic, in order to make it as safe as we can for the program participants and our staff every day.

We continue to regularly monitor developments related to COVID-19 and rely on information from the BC Centre for Disease Control and public health to guide our work in this area.


  • Each of our sites has an Individual Pandemic Plan to respond to the ongoing situation.
  • All staff are provided with PPE (personal protective equipment) and have access to detailed information about how and when to use various forms of PPE.
  • Signage has been posted widely at all of our sites with recommended hygiene practices for workers, guests and the people we support.
  • Hand sanitizer and soap dispensers are available at all programs.
  • Plexiglass guards have been installed at the front desks in all of our buildings to make it possible to have necessary conversations with the people we are supporting.  
  • Continued enhanced infection control protocols are in place that include:
    • frequent regular surface cleaning at all of our sites, particularly at high contact points;
    • staff wear masks throughout their shifts;
    • Guests and program participants are encouraged to wear masks in all common areas of our buildings and to maintain physical distance;
    • Masks are available at all sites for distribution, upon request, to program participants and guests.
  • Nov 9 to Nov 23 – there will no in-person staff meetings. All will be conducted remotely.
  • Nov 9 to Nov 23 – our Indigenous Services and Peer Services staff will reduce site visits to essential visits only.
  • Nov 9 to Nov 23 – there will be minimum staffing at our 616 Powell Administration offices with as many people as possible working from home.
  • We have protocols and procedures in place for when a program participant or staff member tests positive and follow public health direction.

We continue to react to this situation and how it changes in real time, recognizing the possibility of receiving new information and new approaches to complex issues and ways to solve new problems every day.

Our exceptional and creative team of staff continue in their tireless work during every shift in the midst of not one but two health emergencies – thank you! And who constantly step up for each other and for the people we support.

Ways You Can Help

NOTE: from Nov 9 to Nov 23 we will not be able to accept donations in person.

If you are some of the amazing people who want to donate items to any of our sites, we are accepting donations of clothes and household items such as:

  • New socks
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Shoes
  • Toiletries
  • Books

Please email me (Bill) at bbriscall@raincityhousing.org and provide a list of what you have in mind, and the community where you live. That way, I can make sure the right stuff is getting to the right program that is closest to you. Please note that we ARE NOT accepting food at this time, and we are unable to pick up items from you.  

If you are wanting to support us in other ways, one can always donate safely and securely from their own home by visiting our direct donation page. Huge thanks to all of you who donate to us and make it possible for us to respond even faster to this ongoing crisis.

Again, thank you for your ongoing support during these very interesting and intense times!

We got through 2019 – and the whole decade – thanks to our amazing staff!

Working at a nonprofit can be hard. Really hard. Because they’re working so hard, our staff don’t necessarily know the kind of impact they’re making every day in people’s lives and in the communities where they work. 

One reason it’s so hard is that during one shift a million things can happen that need a response, and during the next shift you can hear a pin drop. Except the body and mind are hyper vigilant, ready for anything, so a quiet shift doesn’t mean a restful one.

This is mainly due to the Opioid Poisoning Epidemic – our staff need to be constantly aware of what’s going on during every shift. And because of this hundreds and hundreds of deaths have been prevented by quick acting staff (and tenants who have also learned how to administer naloxone) who were trained and ready, no matter what else might be going on during their shift. Because of this hundreds and hundreds of people are still here with their friends and families to welcome 2020.

In 2019 we were fortunate to open four Modular Housing buildings in three different municipalities meaning 182 homeless individuals could now have a home. Together with Fraser Health we established an Intensive Case Management Team in Chilliwack with rent subsidies available for over 30 people. And we broke ground in Surrey on a project that will provide housing for 130 people.   

But it’s our tireless staff that make these programs work, that ensure a connection is made with each person we work with, and that we work closely and proactively in each community.

Thank you to all our staff, our volunteers, our donors, and everyone else that made it possible for RainCity to do the kind of work we do in 2019.

Let’s see what kind of positive change we can make together in 2020 – and the next decade!

Shared Post: CAEH features two RainCity Housing First Programs

Some of the Leaders of our Housing First teams. From left to right: Jolanta, Bernie, Chelsea B, Chelsea R, and Gina

For this month’s blog we’re sharing the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness’s Bright Spots blog post that features our Surrey ICM Team and our LGBTQ2S+ Youth Housing First Program.

It talks about the importance of having folks with lived experience working and managing programs, particularly when Housing First is a crucial part of the program.

Head on over to their blog and have a read!

Spring has sprung – and so has our new website!

Welcome to our new website! Our last site launched in 2008, along with our new name and logo. Back then we had eight different programs all operating in Vancouver. Now we provide 24 unique programs and services and we do this in over ten municipalities. So we’re really happy we have a new site that better represents who we are and what we do.  

What’s new besides the look?

Each of those 24 Programs now has its own space, where you can find out how maybe Jubilee Rooms is different from Killarney Apartments and who each program is serving. And if you’re not sure where something is on the site, no problem – the new site is entirely searchable!

We have an Innovations section that highlights some of the things we do that we think are pretty important, and even necessary, to ultimately end homelessness. As we learn we find out what’s missing or needed, and we work towards providing a new service or program.

What were youdoing in the 80’s? Our Philosophical Shifts page is an interactive timeline, RainCity’s history, where you can scroll all the way back to 1982. Or 1993. Or 2007. So much history. So many options!

And we have FAQs section, where people can find out quickly what we do (and what we don’t) here in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast. Something not there you think should be? Email Bill who updates all the content: bbriscall@raincityhousing.org

Along with the new site we have a new direct donation page that includes a tribute/in memory of option. All 24 programs are listed in a dropdown menu so someone can choose exactly where their money is going. And like before, donors can choose to cover the admin fee. Cool.

Flightdeck Media built this wonderful new site, and a HUGE thank you to the women at Flipside Creative who have been around for the long haul from vision to realization of this site. And they provided the creative blood, sweat and tears to make it happen – absolutely free!

Tell us what you think of the new site!

We’re opening up a Shelter in Gibsons on Dec 12!

The shelter will have space for 15 beds and be open from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m.

We will have a dedicated phone line for the shelter, 604-989-9314, and our staff able to respond to inquiries round the clock.

We want to provide meals, and have created an online sign-up for community members who want to donate meals and details are posted on our Sunshine Coast Homelessness Services Facebook page.

People who want to donate a meal, or who want to volunteer or offer other support can contact Robby Gillard, RainCity’s assistant manager for the Gibsons shelter, at 778-987-6092, or by email at rgillard@raincityhousing.org.

The Jubilee Rooms Reopens its Doors

We are very happy to be reopening the Jubilee rooms and being able to move people indoors and into safer and more secure accommodation than they’ve had for a long time. At the opening a number of people wanted to know why we’re excited about this new project.  

“When people move indoors, and they’re connected to services, we see things like a reduction in emergency visits to hospitals, we see more connection to family supports, we see more connection in terms of reduction in isolation that people feel when they’re living outside.” Amelia Ridgway, one our Associate Directors at RainCity.

This building will have 80 tenants and is a combination of two Single Room Occupancy hotels – often called SRO’s – that are four stories each with no elevator with shared bathrooms and showers on every floor. All referrals will go through BC Housing’s Supportive Housing Registration Service.

Many of the tenants have called this neighbouhood home for a long time. Now they have a place in this community where they can feel a little safer and make intentional strides towards long term goals.

All 80 tenants receive support from a staff team made up by a combination of Tenant Support Workers, Indigenous Cultural Liaison Workers and a Peer Specialist. One meal a day is provided and there is a safe use room as part of our Peer Witness Program.

“I think we know that when people move into safe and secure housing, the costs to other systems decrease,” added Amelia. “When people move indoors, and they’re connected to services, we see things like a reduction in emergency visits to hospitals, we see more connection to family supports, we see more connection in terms of reduction in isolation that people feel when they’re living outside.” 

Using Google Streetview to see what’s changed, and what can be done!

Today we’ve launched our campaign vancouverstreetview.ca, an interactive site where you can see how homelessness has increased in the Greater Vancouver Area.

The technology allows users to toggle between Google Street View images taken in the last four years and see how the number of people identifying as homeless has increased across Metro Vancouver. The initiative launched this week as modular housing becomes available for those living on the street in one of the campaign’s highlighted areas, 135A Street in Surrey.

The City of Vancouver’s latest homeless count found an increase of 2% since last year, marking a 21% increase in those identifying as homeless since 2014. The most recent stats from Metro Vancouver show a similar story, with a 30% increase in homelessness between 2014 and 2017, as determined during last year’s Metro Vancouver Homeless Count.

“After almost 15 years in this field it’s become clear that the longer we leave people outside, the more ill they become. This makes it more difficult for people to transition back inside, and there’s more trauma they have to work through once they do. We need to act quickly and respectfully stop this from happening to any more of our neighbours,” says Aaron Munro, our Associate Director, explaining the importance of people coming back inside.

Researchers say the actual numbers can be up to three times as high as the 24 hour Vancouver count, due to people staying with relatives, couch surfing or just being really hard to find. This year’s Vancouver count also found that more than half of Vancouver’s homeless population have been homeless for less than a year.

Aaron Munro continues, “The Google Street View images in our campaign, much like the homeless counts, are just snapshots in time of a much larger issue. The campaign images show homelessness in the Greater Vancouver Area is changing our cities, but that there is a solution in providing affordable and social housing, and we need to show our support around it. People who are supported in housing by RainCity have access to supports and live in places that are safer and more secure than remaining homeless.”

We hope our “Vancouver Street View” campaign will get people to contact their local municipality to show their support for social housing in their neighbourhood.

Will you write to your municipality?

Our Overdose Prevention Site is open!

Photo courtesy of CBC News

Earlier in May we opened a new overdose prevention site — the only such site connected to a hospital in the province, and the only spot in Vancouver outside the Downtown Eastside where people can use drugs with clean equipment under the supervision of trained professionals and peers. They can even have their drugs tested for fentanyl at the facility.

Isacc Malmgen is our site Manager and is already getting positive feedback. 

“We’re seeing a lot of people come by who are really excited to be able to walk to something within their neighbourhood, close to their home, where they can feel safe using,” he said.

“You can walk in off the street; you don’t have to check in with any other staff. You just come straight to us and do what you need to do in the tent and feel safe doing it.”

The Site is a partnership with Providence Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, and RainCity. Read the CBC article.

Our Sechelt Shelter moves to a Hostel

The communities on the Sunshine Coast keep on giving and giving. Last month the owner of the Upper Deck Hostel offered the space (larger than the current shelter) as a shelter until permanent housing is built.It opened a week early due to the cold snap, so there’s still work to be done. But it feels good to get people inside and warm! Read the CBC story for more details. 

Announcing our Clinical ICM Team! What does ICM mean, again?

On April 1 RainCity will begin operating a Clinical Intensive Case Management (ICM) Team in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. This Housing First outreach team will assist people in locating places to live that are a little more affordable while building and maintaining relationships with landlords.

There are 40 rent supplements that help ensure folks can have some choice where they want to live. The team includes support workers, peer and Indigenous workers, as well as clinical staff and provides regular access to a psychiatrist and addictions doctor.

Like elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, accommodation can be incredibly hard to find. The team will provide round the clock access for landlords and ICM participants, as well as a growing network of landlords who we hope will want to participate in providing affordable housing, almost always the first step in creating a home.

Read the local news article with a number of funding announcements for Ridge-Meadows.

3030 Gordon is OPEN!!

All the rumors are true! Thanks to the amazing crew at Ventana Construction, the building was completed on time, which means that this week we were able to begin moving folks from the mat shelter currently set up at the Alliance Church directly into our shelter!

The Tri-Cities News had a tour before we opened and you can read their wonderful article here.

If you want to know more about how to contact the shelter, refer people that are interested in the transitional housing side of the building, or the building’s role as an Extreme Weather Response Shelter in the future, jump over to our 3030 Gordon page.

Thank you to so many people – the City of Coquitlam, BC Housing, the Tri-Cities Homelessness and Housing Task Group, and most importantly the hundreds of volunteers – that have all stayed on task to ensure this project became a reality! Not an easy feat in this day and age.

Please check back here in the future for more information about the program itself and ways that volunteers can participate in making a difference to the folks accessing the shelter and housing in this brand new building.


Once again — thank you, thank you, thank you, Tri-Cites, for the warm welcome! And all the best of the season to everyone!

Are you a superhero?

The theme for Vancouver’s Pride this year is Gender Superheroes and for the first time at RainCity, a specific program (both tenants and staff) put together our Parade entry – our LGBTQ2S* Housing for Youth! The amazing folks living at and involved in this project are inspiring, courageous, strong, and really, really funny; all the ingredients needed for a superhero!

It wasn’t always the case. Hundreds and thousands of people may be cheering them on as they march by, but it was often a single person that made a difference and inspired them, or made a complicated life make sense, maybe for the first time. Mentors can be superheroes in disguise. They might have taken off the cape or tossed the tights, but their experience and wisdom are their super powers, and they will never fade.

We need superheroes!

Does this sound like you? Sharing your lived experience and the not so simple fact that you survived is something worth sharing. The youth living at and involved with our LGBTQ2S* project need to become part of communities where they fell safe and heard. If you think this is something you want to do, read more about our mentorship program.

David is someone who benefited from our program. Read what he had to say.

And Aaron Munro, Team Lead for this project, spoke to CBC TV earlier this week about the need for LGBTQ2S* housing for youth. Watch what he had to say.

It’s taken a while for RainCity Housing to get this project off the ground, and the Vancouver Foundation was the first funder to promise funding and they stuck around until we were able to get the rest — Thank you!

So as you’re marching, or cheering, or celebrating all that’s important to you this Pride, remember the heroes, the superheroes that the youth have become, and the mentors that are helping them get there.

Vancouver’s DTES just got a little better.

We are so excited to announce that women and families have begun moving into our newest building, the Budzey. Both unique to the Downtown Eastside and to RainCity Housing, the Budzey has 105 units of housing for women (trans* and cis), and 41 units for women led families. Below is a view of the north shore mountains from the rooftop patio of the Budzey.

Why provide housing for women and women with children?

Because of some powerful statistics:

  • Women experience higher rates of poverty and isolation than men (Census 2006);
  • Women account for 56% of Canadians with low incomes;
  • One in five families with children is led by a single woman; and
  • 42% of those families experience housing affordability problems.

What will happen there?

\”We want to develop this project using a gender and diversity lens that will allow a healthy, vibrant community to flourish, that will be safe for all.\” Amelia Ridgway, Acting associate Director explains. Staff focus on activities that strengthen the community. Some of the provided services will be:

  • Access to childcare and child care related support services;
  • Liaising with community services and partners;
  • A peer based programming within the building;
  • Community kitchen nights for women and family; and
  • A parent resource centre and a youth recreation program.

Why is it called the Budzey Building?

Lorna Budzey was a resident of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for many years. She became known to RainCity Housing at their first shelter, Triage, and was one of first people to challenge the organization to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone that we work with. She experienced many travesties throughout her life, but was always vibrant, charismatic and had an amazing sense of humour. Lorna died in the summer of 2000.

Like what’s taking place at the Budzey? Donate directly to that program right now!

3030 Gordon Ave May 2015 Update!

Welcome back! The official event in April went off without a hitch, and we just squeezed in all the speakers before the first train went by. Many guests came to show their support of the project, including all three Mayors from the Tri-Cities. Sean and Bill also presented a delegation to Port Moody Mayor and Council at the end of April, which was well received.

From left to right are: Douglas Horne, MLA for Coquitlam — Burke Mountain; Linda Reimer, MLA for Port Moody — Coquitlam; Mayor of Coquitlam Richard Stewart; Sean Spear, Associate Director at RainCity Housing; the Hon. James Moore, MP for Port Moody — Westwood — Port Coquitlam, and the Chair of RainCity Housing’s Board, Stacey Morrison.

So fast!

The windows are in and the roof is on. This is a big hurdle in a primarily wood structure, as it’s easier (and more pleasant) working in dry environment. You won’t see as much upward structural progress from the outside, but inside the contractors are making it beautiful.

Door to door is done!

Dwayne and Bill finished their visits to the surrounding residents and businesses. Many folks weren’t home, but those that were took time to talk about the new project. Some had concerns, others felt it was greatly needed, but everyone they talked to appreciated having a chance to share their thoughts. We look forward to hearing more from our neighbours and having their valued input on our Community Advisory Committee, or CAC for short.

Still want to get involved?

We have a number of people interested in being on the CAC (you know who you are!), but are always looking for people as members or alternates, as well as folks that want to receive the minutes, but are unable to be at meetings. Just email Bill at bbriscall@raincityhousing.org to let him know what you’re interested in.

Look for the next update over the summer!

It’s now even easier to donate to RainCity!

We’ve just launched our direct donation page and we really like it. Why? Because it’s not only super easy for you to use, but now each donation goes directly into our accounts on the same day! That means the money can make changes for folks faster than ever before. Plus, you’ll get your tax receipt within minutes (maybe even seconds) after you make the donation.

So spread the news! If you’ve never donated to RainCity before, now’s the perfect time. Or tomorrow. Or next month. Or whenever you want — it’s that easy!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

LGBTQ2S+ housing for youth!

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!

To donate, contact Fran Romer:

604.215.5991 fromer@raincityhousing.org

To find out more about the project, contact Aaron Munro:

604.375.9130 amunro@raincityhousing.org

We know that volunteers rock, so come out and rock with us!

Join us at the FIRST EVER Downtown Eastside Women’s Rock Camp!

Your all time favourite Girls Rock Camp Vancouver has partnered with our first ever DTES Women’s Rock Camp. And we are REALLY excited!

But we need your help. Volunteers are needed for some or all of the days of the camp. And the deadline is coming up fast!

  • What: DTES Women’s Rock Camp
  • When: June 4, 1pm to 8pm
  • Where: Chapel Arts, 304 Dunley, Vancouver

Visit www.surveymonkey.com/dteswomensrockcamp, fill out the application and we’ll be contacting you with more training details.

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!

Benefits include:

  • Inspirational and information rich training by long time social advocate Vikki Reynolds, PHD, RCC and Hayley Sinclair, Peer Programs Coordinator, Vancouver Coastal Health.
  • Food!
  • 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.

Thanks for volunteering!

“…something right is happening.”

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 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 roommates, 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!

What else can Vancouver do to end homelessness?

International Women’s Day is Good News

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?

A snapshot of homelessness

Last week the preliminary numbers were released from the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count 2011, and if you haven’t already heard there were a number of surprises. For the first time since the count began in 2002 there was a decrease, albeit a small one, in the overall numbers (1%) and a big decrease in unsheltered homeless (54%), but an increase in homeless youth (almost 30%). Our Associate Director Sean Spear spoke on CBC’s BC Almanac about the count and what we experience at RainCity.

So why the changes? Well, the easy part to explain is there were just more spaces inside than during the last count. For the last three years RainCity Housing has provided temporary shelters in three different neighbourhoods intentionally outside Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in order to address the homeless populations in those neighbourhoods and with much success. Hundreds of the individuals staying at these shelters went on to find permanent housing. Many people were coming inside for the first time in years.

The majority of the people staying at our shelter near Granville Street were under 30, and many of those were even younger. The count is getting more sophisticated in terms of connecting with youth, but we are also seeing more people under25 accessing our services and housing, and feeling more comfortable doing so, and therefore more visible for the count.

And the small decrease in over homeless numbers? The City and the Province have been actively creating purpose built housing throughout Vancouver, with about 1500 units completed and over another 1000 coming online over the next 2 to 3 years. Our Housing First ACT Team and the rest of the At Home/Chez Soi program provides subsidies for 200 people so they can afford to live anywhere in the city, not just the Downtown Eastside. The fact that the number hasn’t increased is an amazing sign, as the overall population has increased by 8% since the last count, and the counts done in 2005 and 2008 found large increases in the homeless population (thanks, Frances!).

But it’s important to remember that:

  • Researchers say the actual numbers can be up to three times as high as the snapshot 24 hour count, due to people staying with relatives, couch surfing or just really hard to find.
  • Women are still the invisible homeless, where the actual numbers aren’t accurate as there are still many barriers.
  • The transgender community is over represented in homeless populations.

Can we collectively pat ourselves on the back? Yes. Nonprofits, the City and the Province, and organizations like Streetohome have made huge steps the right direction. But there’s still a lot more work to be done. Not only is more affordable and supported housing still needed, as a society we need to look at why homelessness is an issue and continue to find solutions until the day there really is a home for every person.

Tell what you think a solution to end homelessness could be.

The FYI on YPI

What are they teaching kids in school these days? Would you believe me if I told you they might be learning about social awareness and how to give back to the community? It’s true! The Youth and Philanthropy Initiative, or YPI, has been part of the high school curriculum (usually grade ten) here in Canada for a number of years now, and is also taught in the UK and the US.

Here’s how it works. Students work together in groups to find out the diverse social needs of their community and then select a social need that they are passionate about. They research local, grassroots, social providers whose aim is to help members of the community faced with that specific need, and then pick one charity they feel is having a positive impact on the community.

Once the research is complete, groups do a short presentation on their charity and how a grant would help it better serve its clients. A group from each class is chosen to conduct a final presentation in front of their entire school and a judging panel, most of whom are fellow students. Finally, the team with the most compelling presentation wins a $5,000 grant which is awarded directly to the chosen charity.

So each term we get a few groups of students calling and wanting to find out what we do at RainCity Housing. And every time it’s a new experience for me and I never grow tired of it, as each group has different ideas and ways of expressing them. Some want to interview our staff on video, some want to visit our different sites, but all of these amazing students are genuinely curious about how we can end homelessness and what can be actually done. When I was 15, I hadn’t even heard of the term homelessness, let alone want to do something about it.

Then the day came when I got a phone call from some very excited students. They had me on speaker phone and they were all talking at once, but it was easy it make out \”We won! We won!\” as all three took turns saying it. They also kept thanking me and RainCity Housing. \”But you guys did all the work,\” I said. \”It was your presentation that won!\”

Still, they thanked me once more, and invited me to their school to watch their presentation to the rest of the school staff.

Alina, Allie and Mathew from Cariboo Secondary School, Burnaby, BC with review of cialis daily their $5000 cheque!

Sadly, not every group of students will be able to win $5000 for their chosen charity. But we’re all the wealthier for it because of the change that can take place. Because real change takes place when people of any age start to find out what role they can play in dispelling myths, learning about homelessness (in this instance), and sharing that information with family and friends.
How will you create change?

The women at Vivian want their stories heard.

A few weeks ago there was an article with the women living at the Vivian, because it was important to find out what they thought and if they wanted to share their side of the story. The women living at the ‘Viv’ arranged a meeting to express their concerns about the article, and two of the women decided to write letters to the editor, one of which was edited and published. You can read the scanned letter in its entirety here.

Here is the unpublished letter that was dictated to a Vivian staff member:

Dear Courier:

My name is Shannon, I’m 25, I moved into the Vivian just before Christmas and that would have been my first Christmas that I got gifts and got experience a Christmas for the first time in my whole life.

I got onto the methadone program here and I see my son every Saturday, something I wasn’t able to do this before. I enjoy getting to be a mum for my son. The staff give me the extra encouragement to stay healthy and get stable, get on methadone so I can be stable enough to see my son once a week.

This place done a lot of good for me. I’ve learned to be a better person and be more stable. I actually have a home. I’m learning how to do things that I couldn’t do before. For one, I’m learning job-training skills. I’m learning how to be more independent and interact with people. I’m learning a lot about respecting others and that we all live here and work together. This is our home. It’s a safe place for all of us. If we didn’t have this here we wouldn’t have nothing. It’s a very positive place.

I feel like I have more self-esteem. I know what it’s like to be cared about and wanted. To feel safe and that I have my own home, because this is my home. The staff come here everyday to help out one-on-one. People are not living here in a hotel, it’s a home.

I think it’s great to have the support of the staff. I really like the art that we do and all the activities. We have fun and just get to relax.

It’s a really good place. I’ve told other friends I know who are unsafe to live here. It’s a place that I would recommend to people. It gives you a chance to know what success feels like. You don’t feel put down or shut out.

Shannon G

Not only do women living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside need to have safe, supported housing, they need to have their voices heard. Thank you Laura Anne and Shannon for sharing your stories. And thank you for taking the time to listen.

The Homelessness Panel reconvenes

At the tail end of Homelessness Action Week CBC Radio One’s ‘On The Coast’ brings together Laura Track from Pivot, Coast Mental Health’s ED Darrell Burnham and our very own Mark Smith to discuss what’s being done and what still needs to be done to address homelessness in Metro Vancouver.

Listen to the panel.

Briony shares her Story

A group of youth filmmakers displaying an amazing amount of courage, together with YouthCO and the help of the National Film Board of Canada, have assembled a number of stories of how at-risk youth can play it safe. After staying at our Granville Shelter, Briony was able to find her own accommodation.

Watch Briony’s story.