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.

WHAT WE’RE DOING:

  • 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!

The Kids Are More Than Alright!

From top right, counterclockwise: Chloe at our LGBTQ2S+ Youth office, Vivian at our Chilliwack Modular Housing, Ming at our Winter Shelter, and the scarves Ming made.

Today’s youth can remind us of what is truly important, and that anyone – at any age – can make a difference. These three youth were too young to vote or run a business so they each found different ways to support others. For her 6th birthday Vivian asked for donations instead of gifts and raised over $200! Chloe, rather than receive Christmas gifts, asked for donations and raised $365! And Ming, knowing people can get cold and can feel forgotten during the winter, knitted scarves for everyone staying at our Winter Response Shelter.

A huge shout out to all of the people in these young people’s lives who set examples and/or have talked about the importance of giving back and building community. An even bigger shout out to Ming, Chloe and Vivian who each made their own choices to help others, knowing they would need to provide their own time, energy and money to do so. I know I wasn’t thinking of others who might need support when I was 6, or 8, or even 16. Whether it’s Climate Change, or racism, or homelessness, young people are speaking out and acting in order to make a difference.

Do you have Food Security?

You might. While the cost of living is getting higher in BC’s Lower Mainland, you probably have a job and money to put towards regular meals in your home. But if you’re household is relying on social assistance as the main or only source of income, a BC Center for Disease Control study found that 75% of these households are food insecure, and female lone-parent households with children under the age of 18 face the highest rate of food insecurity. [1]

What is Food Insecurity?

When someone has limited or no access to adequate, culturally-appropriate and nutritional food, that person is experiencing food insecurity. Food insecurity contributes to poorer overall health – physical, mental, and emotional – and can negatively impact conditions like:

  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation

And someone experiencing food insecurity can also find it harder to concentrate or manage their emotions. [2] [3]

Food Insecurity at RainCity

Over half of the housing at RainCity doesn’t have a funded meal program, and almost all of those buildings are located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where healthy food is scarce, lineups for hot meals are long, and hours to available food service are limited.

While some of our programs benefit from local food donations – and thank you for those! – food donations alone do not guarantee ongoing meals.  

What can be done?

Our Board has launched a fundraising campaign ‘Healthy Food, Healthy Minds’ to address this! There are three ways to contribute:

  • Make a personal donation – Every donation makes a difference at RainCity. 100% of your donation goes directly to food security. A donation of $60 will provide a month of weekly meals for a mom and her two kids!
  • Become a Monthly Donor – A monthly donor makes a huge impact while having little impact on your own budget. If you and nine people you know all decided to donate $50 a month (a nice dinner out with a close friend), the total would cover weekly meals for the 24 women living at the Vivian for a year!
  • Have Your Business Sponsor a Meal Program! – By sponsoring one or more of these meal programs, your donation will mean people no longer needing to use all of their time and energy to secure food – they will be able to focus healthier brains and bodies on learning valuable life skills, participating in life in a different way, and making their life and the lives of those around them better. Email us for more info.

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have economic, physical and social access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”


United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

[1] Li, N, PhD, Dachner, N, MSc, Tarasuk, V, PhD, August 2016, Priority health equity indicators for British Columbia: Household food insecurity indicator report <http://www.bccdc.ca/pop-public-health/Documents/Household%20food%20insecurity%20in%20BC_full%20report.pdf>

[2] Hartline-Grafton, H, DrPH, RD, 2017, The Impact of Poverty, Food Insecurity, and Poor Nutrition on Health and Well-Being <https://frac.org/wp-content/uploads/hunger-health-impact-poverty-food-insecurity-health-well-being.pdf>

[3] Proof Food Insecurity Policy Research, 2016 The Impact of Food Insecurity on Health <https://proof.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/health-impact-factsheet.pdf>

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?