Hello everyone and welcome to our blog about helping the issue of homeless in the Tri-Cities area of Metro Vancouver. We are a group of students from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia who are trying to make a difference with a social innovation to help the homeless. Below is a summary of our homeless sponsorship idea, and to find out more you can click on the Posts page or use the categories on the column to your right.
From the Tri-Cities homeless population, we will target homeless people who have a high chance of becoming independent within 6-12 months if they have a home. Outreach workers and other homeless advocates who know the homeless best can identify the appropriate clients.
Funding the housing:
The housing can be funded through a combination of two methods: by donation and by investment giving circles. For the donation option, we would invite local organizations, churches, or a philanthropic giving circle (a small group of people who want to donate their money to a cause) to donate the rent for the sponsored client. With this option, we would need to find a landlord who is willing to rent their property to a homeless person.
The other option is an investment giving circle which would buy the housing and thus overcome one of the biggest barriers in getting housing for homeless people (eg. The client often has no previous address, current employment, or credit rating, making it difficult to find landlords willing to rent to them). The investment giving circle would consist of five investors who pool their funds in order to buy a piece of property in the Tri-Cities that will house homeless people. The selected clients will be provided with housing, to which they contribute $375 per month (the social assistance housing allowance). To lower costs, up to three clients will live together in separate rooms in one housing unit. We will approach banks, the city, and other groups in order to provide benefits for the investment giving circle. These can include a significant reduction in the usual expenses that a property investor incurs, such as lower property taxes, a low interest rate on the mortgage, no real estate agent commissions, and other subsidized items from the community. By providing reduced costs in property investment, we are giving investors the opportunity to invest in an appreciating property while also helping their community by helping to house a homeless person, thus capitalizing on the increased trend of socially conscious investments.
A fundamental part of this idea is community involvement in order to get the homeless person re-integrated into society and help society get to know homeless people as well. We will involve community volunteers to provide simple support services to the client, such as companionship, mentorship, and life skills, such as cooking and using the library. We recognize that when a person gets out of homelessness they are starting an entirely new life, and leaving behind their old habits and circle of friends. Volunteers, who can provide companionship and mentorship in the form of simple acts such as going out for coffee, can help the client immensely in getting re-integrated into society and combating loneliness. We will approach the large groups of volunteers from the Cold Wet Weather Mat (CWWM) Program as well as from the community at large.
Community organizations such as the Share Food Bank, local businesses and the churches that have shown interest in helping the homeless through their participation in the CWWM will be asked to donate other life essentials for the client such as food, clothing and furniture. We also have an idea of starting a website or other community forum where the modest needs of the sponsored client can be advertised and community members can respond by donating the needed items.
Involving many stakeholders in this program helps dispel the stigmas associated with homelessness and reach our ultimate goal of re-integrating homeless clients into society. We are confident that if we can provide the client with a place to live, support services, and job placement services, they can be self-sustained and the housing unit can house the next homeless client.
This flow chart shows the cycle of our program, from homeless client selection all the way up to the client being self sustainable and able to live on their own.