November 1st sees the opening of the ‘In From the Cold’ Emergency Shelter at Salt Spring Island Community Services (SSICS) for the cold weather season.
“There is one notable difference this year in our status with BC Housing in that we have been approved for funding every night of the season as we see the need, rather than being subject to a strict criteria of extreme weather in order to receive funding,” said Jordan Lessick, Housing First Coordiinator at SSICS. “We have been requesting funding for this basic need for a number of years and are relieved to know that the funding has been granted finally.”
An unofficial Point-In-Time Homeless Count on Salt Spring Island in February, 2016 counted 83 known homeless individuals, including 13 youth.
“Relieving a bit of pressure on the necessary community work to keep the shelter open every night, as we have for the last several years, means we can address some of the other glaring needs and securing a safe shelter for youth is a top priority given the results of the homeless count last winter,” added Lessick. “Even with 20 mats being funded, it doesn’t add up to a solution for a significant portion of homeless individuals and certainly, not for youth.”
Through the Housing First Program at Salt Spring Island Community Services, staff helps people to identify housing options and connect them with support seistrvices and ass them in sourcing and securing housing, provide support in landlord relations, help to align income sources with rental needs and in some cases provide subsidy. Youth provide specific challenges
in these areas
“We have been grateful for community donations to keep the shelter open in past years,” said Lessick. “We would like to direct donations this year towards improving our services for youth shelter services.”