Homelessness outreach making an impact

Local advocates for the homeless are hoping to again tap a fund that has allowed them to hire a co-ordinator and outreach worker.

Local advocates for the homeless are hoping to again tap a fund that has allowed them to hire a co-ordinator and outreach worker.

The federal government is calling for proposals through its homelessness partnering strategy, which supports 61 designated communities, including Nelson. Since 2008, the Nelson Committee on Homelessness and Stepping Stones shelter have benefitted from the money.

Stepping Stones manager Klee Hunter says having an outreach worker allows them to help people find and maintain homes.

“This has been definitely a tool that helps break homelessness,” she says. “When we didn’t have an outreach worker, we might help people make calls and go out and get housing, but then it breaks down.

“There’s no one to talk to the landlord, no one to work on life skills, no one to work on budgeting so they can pay the rent. So people would just come back [to the shelter]. We weren’t breaking the cycle of homelessness at all.”

Hunter says she knows the value of outreach, having done it in Vancouver for 15 years with people with severe and persistent mental health issues.

She adds they initially applied for funding through the Nelson Committee on Homelessness over three years ago, received a second contract to take them into 2012, and “absolutely” will be seeking another renewal.

Committee member Cheryl Dowden adds they will also apply for funding to maintain a part-time co-ordinator.

“We’re still in the process of responding to the request for proposals, but we have determined that our priorities are to continue to fund [the outreach worker] and co-ordinator,” she said.

A maximum of $244,000 is available to fund projects between April 2012 and March 2014. Dowden said they will be seeking a total of about $130,000. The deadline for non-profits to apply is November 25.