The workers will be social work professionals trained in mental health and addictions and in working with the homeless, according to Rona Park, who is the project lead for the initiative and the executive director of the Nelson Community Services Society.
That brings the collaborative to within $9,000 of the $100,000 needed to pay the workers and administer their program for a year.
“I feel really great about the city’s contribution,” Park told the Star. “They have been with us all along on this,committing a councillor to come to our meetings, having meetings with the health authority with us, and ultimately giving way to us on the panhandling bylaw.”
Park was referring to council’s deferral until September 2017 of its proposed panhandling bylaw, in order to give the collaborative time to do its work first.
The Nelson Street Culture Collaborative consists of 36 people from police, social services, church, mental health,business, local government, education, health, and public works sectors. Its stated purpose is “to create a community-wide strategy for how to respond to those who rely on street culture to survive.”
Park told the Star that the hiring is already underway and that she hopes the outreach workers will start in early September.
Other funding has come from the Salvation Army ($40,000), a federal government grant obtained by the Nelson Committee on Homelessness ($36,000), the Nelson Community Services Society ($5,000), and donations from theNelson business community ($1,780).
Park said the public can contribute with a tax-deductible donation to the Nelson Community Services Society,which manages the street collaborative initiative.
A second project of the collaborative, already underway, is providing training in mental-health first aid. The course already been delivered to many city staff and to the city police, and will be provided this fall to the social services sector and to the business community. Selkirk College will include the course in its fall continuing education offerings.