Powell Place Women’s Shelter to be rebuilt with capacity to help twice as many women
June 19, 2012
VANCOUVER ---- Powell Place Women’s Shelter will soon move back to its original home – with better facilities, expanded services and the ability to accommodate twice as many women – thanks to private donors and a BC Housing commitment. BC Housing Minister Rich Coleman announced June 19 that his ministry will commit close to $2.3 million in financing toward the project that has an estimated price tag of $4.1 million.
“This permanently expanded Powell Place will be not only be a more comfortable space with better facilities to help more women find their footing and begin to heal, it will be a gateway to permanent accommodation for so many homeless women,” says St. James women’s services director Trudi Shymka. “We are extremely grateful to the Province for their support of the expansion.”
BC Housing Minister Rich Coleman says, “The Province’s priority is to ensure we have shelter supports and more permanent housing options for women who are homeless on the Downtown Eastside. Our commitment to the society to help with the renovations of the site into a permanent shelter will go a long way towards continuing to provide a safe and supportive environment in which women in need can take that first step towards coming in off the streets and into a better life.”
A second capital grant proposal is currently being considered by the City of Vancouver (who own the land that the shelter is built on). A community capital gift campaign, to raise $1 million for the ambitious project, will soon be launched by St. James Community Service Society, which has operated Powell Place since it opened in 1973.
Powell Place was, and continues to be, a pioneer in providing women-only emergency shelter. The low-barrier facility, open 24/7 year-round, has a well-earned reputation of providing trusted safety and support for the most vulnerable women in the Downtown Eastside. Powell Place serves 300 women a year, approximately 40 percent of whom are helped to successfully move on to permanent housing or treatment facilities. Despite this success, the service is forced to turn away requests for shelter every day due to limited capacity.
The original location for Powell Place was 329 Powell Street, where it offered 26 beds to women in need. In late 2009, SJCSS moved the shelter’s location down the road to a temporary location at 625 Powell Street. While that location – a converted warehouse – had limited natural light, poor ventilation, and little outdoor space, it did have space for 26 additional beds, increasing the shelter’s overall capacity to 52 beds. Speaking at the opening, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson called the project “a remarkable success.”
The renovated Powell Place, when returned to 329 Powell, will not only be able to accommodate all 52 beds on a permanent basis, it will have the necessary space to provide counseling and learning opportunities that enable women to transition successfully to the next step in their journey. The facility will have health assessment and treatment facilities, workshop and group space, enclosed outdoor space, recreation areas, a commercial kitchen and eating areas. Construction is targeted to begin in the spring of 2013.
St. James Community Service Society believes that Powell Place makes a crucial difference in ending women’s homelessness. The women we serve struggle with poverty, addictions, mental health issues and the effects of acute and systemic violence and abuse. At Powell Place, women receive a safe place to stay and access to the support they need to move forward in their lives, whether that means moving into permanent housing, treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, help to access education or family mediation services. At Powell Place, we work one-to-one to identify women’s goals for a healthier and more stable life.
Background on the St. James Community Service Society
St. James Community Service Society has been a part of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside since 1961 and has a unique understanding of this diverse neighbourhood. St. James is an effective community organization with a half-century long history of giving care and support to this city’s most marginalized and vulnerable people. We have transformed lives for a better future through the provision of:
- women and children's emergency shelter and transitional housing
- mental health housing
- affordable supported housing
- hospice care at two hospices
- adult guardianship for seniors unable to manage their own finances.
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