After delays set back the opening of a local service hub for people experiencing homelessness in White Rock by several weeks, the resource centre has now opened.
Operating at the Church of the Holy Trinity, the service hub was scheduled to open in July but was pushed back due to some neighbours’ protests against the service.
A Sources Foundation initiative, the service hub is intended to be a low-barrier option for people to get help to see nursing staff, get legal support, find leads into housing services, and receive mental health and income support, among other services.
As for the neighbours of the church who did not support the opening of a service hub, George Passmore said the situation is still a little unpredictable.
“I don’t know about resolved, but I would say that some of the neighbours remain concerned and we continue to understand that. We’ve been in communication with at least one of the neighbours who said that he feels satisfied with our response at this point,” added Passmore, director of personal and family counselling and support for Sources foundation.
Representative of one experience of what it’s like to be unhoused, the service hub is also being moved from place to place.
Although the opening had no hiccups and saw a decent turnout, Passmore said the location of the hub is still not concrete and added it will move to the Semiahmoo Library in the coming months.
“They said they’d be happy to host it, but not until January so they could launch it well,” Passmore shared.
“We want to be considerate of the neighbourhood we’re in so it’s less ideal but also, being right (in a populated area) is much more accessible for the population we’re serving.”
One hope for the service hub was that it would be one additional resource on the Semiahmoo Peninsula for vulnerable people who do not have access to housing or other basic needs.
However, that is up in the air as the winter season’s regular offerings of shelter are facing issues in materializing once again.
“There’s still lots of conversation going on about getting an emergency weather shelter and a daytime warming shelter in the community this year, but it’s proving to be challenging … and there’s a lot of angst because there’s no concrete plan,” Passmore said.
After asking the City of White Rock for an update on whether a daytime warming centre would return to the city this year, director of the planning and development department Anne Berry could not confirm that it would.
“Two factors that have challenged the City this year is the lack of grant funding available to support the cost of the operation of the centre and the rental of the ATCO trailer and washrooms, and the difficulty in finding a suitable alternative location in White Rock to operate the facility, following the redevelopment of the batting cage at Centennial Park,” the email from Berry reads.
“Without grant funding the City’s budget is limited to $75K allocated in this year’s budget, and the possibility of the City of Surrey matching the amount per previous years.”
Berry added that White Rock is working with Surrey to find a resolution, especially since last year’s location for an overnight shelter in South Surrey, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, is not available this year.
“The availability of an overnight shelter is of significance in consideration of the operation of a daytime warming centre, as those guests who would be departing a daytime centre would likely need access to nighttime shelter as well, without which a higher risk would exist for both centre guests and the community in the overnight hours,” Berry’s email concludes.
City of White Rock’s communications department confirmed that this is the situation for the time being and that a final decision may be reached within in the next few weeks.
In order to get both services running in South Surrey, members from Sources, Fraser Health, Options Community Services, Engaged Communities Canada Society are working together to approach the city with a plan, that will hopefully be approved soon, Passmore said.
When asked if he is fearful that nothing will be made available, Passmore said “I think everyone has that fear.”