24/7 women's shelter in Downtown Eastside nears funding goal
A 24-hour women's shelter was one of the recommendations of B.C.'s Missing Women Commission.
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A Downtown Eastside women’s shelter is hoping to secure enough funding to expand its current space and be able to open 24 hours a day.
The idea of operating a 24/7 safe space for women has been floated for over 20 years, said Alice Kendall, executive director of Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.
“This way we will not be asking women to leave at 9 a.m.,” Kendall said.
“Today as I was driving to work in that torrential rain, you become mindful of women being asked to leave a space into this weather. Women with health conditions — and you’re putting them out onto the street with all of their belongings.”
The shelter the centre operates is low-barrier, and is often overcrowded: with just 50 cots, the shelter often houses 120 women.
At the next city council meeting, council will consider a motion to give the centre a $250,000 capital grant. BC Housing has confirmed funding of $440,000 in addition to $1.1 million in operating funding it already receives from BC Housing.
According to the City of Vancouver, “the creation of a 24-hour women’s only shelter aligns with recommendations from the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.” The inquiry was struck in 2010 to examine the police response to missing and murdered women.
Need for the women's shelter has been growing as homeless rates rise, Kendall said, adding that the Downtown Eastside is a place vulnerable people turn to for services and help, and also because it is less likely they will be "moved along."