Vancouver: Increasing supportive housing spaces through collective fundraising
In Vancouver, the community organization Streetohome has pioneered a new way of fundraising for supportive housing. Streetohome is not a housing provider, but instead works with the community to generate funding and contributions for supportive housing projects throughout the city.
Streetohome recognizes that homelessness has tremendous costs, both for individuals and for communities as a whole. Research from B.C. revealed that the cost in public services of a vulnerable individual living on the street is approximately $55,000/year, while supportive housing amounts to only $37,000/year. Because of this, Streetohome argues that it is in the community’s best interest to contribute to ending homelessness.
In order to create new supportive housing units for homeless people in Vancouver, Streetohome raises funding from the private sector and philanthropic sources, as well as leveraging government funding and pursuing land, building, and material donations.
By acting as a fundraising and advocacy group for all supportive housing organizations in Vancouver, Streetohome has had a significant impact on homelessness in the city. By the end of 2014, Streetohome had helped create 850 units of supportive housing, helping over 1,700 people. Streetohome has invested in housing projects by supporting organizations including the YWCA, Vancouver Native Housing, Covenant House Vancouver, and many others.
Streetohome also helped created Vancouver’s first rent bank, which helps individuals and families at risk of homelessness by providing one-time loans for rent and utility arrears or first and last month’s rent deposits. Over the past two years the Vancouver Rent Bank has helped over 400 people.
Streetohome currently has two new projects that are shovel-ready, which will create 219 more supportive housing spaces in the city. Since Streetohome’s inception in 2008, street homelessness in Vancouver is estimated to have decreased by 66 per cent.