Cranbrook Homeless program outlines support for shelter
Letter to the Editor
Editor’s note: This letter was sent to the City of Cranbrook by the authors.
We are writing on behalf of the Cranbrook Homeless Outreach and Prevention Program in support of Cranbrook Homeless Outreach and Prevention Program ,2020
As a program of the Community Connections Society of Southeast BC, we call this location home. We have been co-located there with outstanding Community Hub members for over five years and our program has been in existence for nearly fifteen. Our organization has two Community Hubs which we share with other community partners who work with us providing services to our community. We are very much a part of Cranbrook and have been part of the downtown core Since 1982.
For nearly 40 years, our Agency has contributed to the citizens/City of Cranbrook and our region through innovative projects, partnerships, committee involvements and economic contributions. Our agency currently provides nearly one hundred well-paying jobs, as these shelter positions would be, monies which in turn; are spent in our community. Jobs that support our local College Students, seasoned professionals and bolster our economy.
Our provision of a Homeless Shelter is a logical progression of the services we provide to our community. Most importantly, a Shelter will fill a long vacant gap in services and supports for the most vulnerable persons in our community. A population which sadly, is growing.
In March of 2020 (narrowly missing COVID) we were part of the Point in Time count which indicated 63 people were completely unhoused during the 24-hour period of the count. An increase of 117% compared to the original count held in 2018.
The City of Cranbrook’s Housing Needs report of November 2020 indicated that our community is in dire need of a minimum of 430 new housing units and had this to say about low income households: “Low-income households, of all demographics, are challenged to afford the average rents in Cranbrook and, as a result, are: utilizing an unsustainable proportion of their income towards housing costs, leaving them with less financial means to pay for other basic necessities; living in inappropriate, precarious, and sometimes unsafe housing; or triggering a crisis such as experiencing homelessness”
We are woefully lacking housing, particularly within the lower rental market. Units that are attainable, safe, and affordable are nearly nonexistent.
From January 1, 2019 to January 1, 2021 over 2,200 people accessed our program alone. Of those, 356 people were absolutely homeless when they connected with us. As mentioned, we have been located at 209A 16TH Ave North since 2014, where we have been meeting people who are homeless or facing homelessness. People who may use drugs or may struggle with their mental health…but the majority do not. We have quite literally served thousands of people who have come into our building, across the street from the high school, near a day care beside two hockey arenas, in a residential area. Many of the people we serve go on to or continue to live in the neighbourhoods of our city, near schools, near parks, near daycares and may even be your neighbour.
We are already part of this neighbourhood, the people we serve are already part of this neighbourhood. They want to be here for the same reason our agency moved here. To be close to our partners in wellness such as Street Angels, ANKORS, East Kootenay Drug & Alcohol, WorkBC, Adult Probation, Axis Family Services, The East Kootenay Regional Hospital, three of the four medical clinics, Nurse Practitioners, Adult Mental Health, cultural services, The Seniors Centre, the Rec plex, pharmacies, grocery stores, the College of The Rockies. All these locations are easily accessible from this site most within a block or so.
What makes us a good neighbour is our desire to be a good neighbour. We are committed to providing safe, respectful, and responsible services to our community.
In the words of the late Fred Rogers, “All of us, at some time or other need help. Whether we are giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbours…”
We recognize that saying “yes” to this zoning amendment is essentially saying “yes” to a 24/7, 365-day Emergency Shelter and “yes” to location of 209a 16th Ave North. We respectfully thank the city for the careful consideration they have shown while making this decision.
Cranbrook Homeless Outreach and Prevention Program,