Feds pull homelessness funding

SURREY – It just got a lot harder for those on the cusp of homelessness in Surrey, Delta and White Rock.

SOURCES Community Resource Centres will no longer be receiving funding for their homeless prevention services following a decision by the federal government to prioritize funding for other programs.

According to SOURCES advocacy programs manager Soraya VanBuskirk, the organization has received funding for their homeless prevention services each year since 2005. Now with that funding no longer available, SOURCES is left trying to make up a loss that amounts to $200,000 and puts many at risk of becoming homeless.

VanBuskirk said when it came to funding priorities, Employment and Social Development Canada decided to move to a “housing first” model rather than continue funding homeless prevention.

“We were somewhat surprised,” said VanBuskirk.

Some of the homeless prevention services offered by SOURCES include helping tenants deal with illegal evictions, negotiations with landlords, tenancy agreements and sourcing other grants or services for low-income individuals.

“We want to help people get stabilized so they don’t fall into the pit of homelessness because once that happens it’s a different ball game,” she said. “We do have that component as well but predominantly where we provide the greatest service is preventing people from getting to that degree.”

Last year, SOURCES’ two housing loss prevention workers helped 1,100 people avoid homelessness. With the funding now dried up, only one of the positions is being funded, and only partly, out of the organizations’ reserves.

While the long-term goal is to secure sustainable funding for the services, SOURCES’ short-term hope is that they’ll be able to raise at least $80,000 in the upcoming Coldest Night of the Year walk.

Now in its second year, the event sees participants complete either a 2km, 5km or 10km walk through White Rock after raising funds through pledges. Last year SOURCES raised $45,000 for homeless prevention through the walk.

The 2015 Coldest Night of the Year walk takes place Feb. 21. For more information or to sign up, go to Coldestnightoftheyear. org/location/whiterock.

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