As Winter approached and dropping temperatures threatened, it became clear that there wasn’t enough space indoors for people to stay during the cold season. Surrey needed a temporary, low-barrier shelter that would run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – a place where people could warm up with a good meal during the day, a bed to sleep in at night, and a welcome that didn’t require them to leave during other times of the day. With this need in mind, the City of Surrey came to the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society for a responsive grant.
“When I got to the shelter, I was sad. I didn’t have anyone to share my life with, but then I got to know other clients and got involved in the community living at the shelter. I became friends with another client, and now we rent a place together. If I didn’t have that sense of security, I couldn’t live by myself, let alone afford rent.
Now I have a beautiful two-bedroom apartment.”
– Jordi, Winter Shelter client from December 10, 2012 until March 31, 2013.
Responsive grants are provided outside the annual granting cycle in an emergency or when there is a unique opportunity to make a project happen or to leverage other monies. In this case, the responsive grant prompted operational funding from BC Housing to get the Winter Shelter up and running for the six-month cold weather season. Keys: Housing and Health Solutions, whose regular year-round shelter is located close by, was identifi ed as the non-profi t organization that would operate the Winter Shelter. Within a few short weeks, and before the cold came in earnest, a building was renovated, and 40 beds were made available.
Throughout the season, until the end of April, 157 people came through the doors of the Winter Shelter. For 72 of them, the Winter Shelter provided more than a couple of nights of relief from freezing temperatures and painful hunger – their stay actually led to long-term housing and stabilization in their lives. In an environment of safety and trust, Keys Stabilization & Outreach teams provided regular, one-on-one health and mental health services and real incentives to become clean and healthy. The Outreach & Housing teams then provided housing referrals and supports to clients ready to move forward. Sometimes, there is an opportunity to meet a need that reveals a glimpse of what is possible when resources and commitments are shared.
The Winter Shelter not only provided a warm, safe place to go, but was also the avenue to a more stable situation for Jordi and many like her. It is a great example of what can be achieved when we come together to create real solutions and a community of support.