Homelessness is a complex social issue with many facets that are individual to each person who experiences it. Unfortunately, Abbotsford isn't alone in experiencing these challenges on a local level. Homelessness is a regional, inter-regional, Provincial and National challenge.
The City of Abbotsford has a role in advocating with senior levels of government, participating in regional and inter-regional efforts to enhance the community infrastructure, and developing policy and funding for solutions to end homelessness.
The City of Abbotsford partners with local service providers, agencies and senior levels of government to address this very important social issue in our community.
The Abbotsford Homelessness Prevention and Response System (AHPRS) has been developed and implemented in collaboration with senior levels of government, local service providers and community organizations. The AHPRS is a community invested resource that provides access to housing, health, income assistance and support connections through the following, initiatives, programs and streams of delivery.
1. HOMELESSNESS ACTION ADVISORY COMMITTEE
In 2015, Abbotsford City Council created a Homelessness Action Advisory Committee to provide advice to Council on homelessness issues and to provide oversight to the City of Abbotsford Homelessness Action Plan.
The mandate of the Homelessness Action Advisory Committee is to address homelessness and related issues in the community and to provide advice to Council on policy and matters relating to homelessness in Abbotsford.The committee achieves this through:
The Coordinated Intake and Referral System (CIR) is a 3 year federally funded project. Using best practices from other cities, the CIR is working with social support agencies in Abbotsford allowing the city to improve its ability to better serve the needs of homeless individuals. Overall, the results of the project will provide a sustainable foundation on which Abbotsford can launch a Housing First approach and provide a useful template for other similar-sized cities to do the same.
The CIR System is co-developed by the City of Abbotsford in partnership with BC Housing, the Fraser Health Authority, Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and includes Seven Memorandum of Understanding partners: Raven's Moon Resource Society, Salvation Army, Abbotsford Community Services, SARA for Women, Look Out Society, Positive Living Fraser Valley, and Cyrus Centre.
The CIR System has three streams of service delivery:
Since its implementation launch on September 1, 2017, the system has received and responded to over 300 referrals of individuals into the system.
3. INTER-AGENCY CARE TEAM
The City of Abbotsford, in partnership with the Fraser Health Authority and support from BC Housing launched an Inter-Agency Care Team in September 2017, in coordination with the CIR. This team offers health-centered outreach based support and housing placement for individuals, who require access to housing, health, income assistance and support connections. The Inter-Agency Care Team is comprised of a Fraser Health Authority Outreach-Based Medical Services Team, Service Canada funded Intake Coordinator and Housing Placement Liaison Worker, and accesses inter-agency resources from BC Housing and local housing and service providers to support individuals who have barriers in accessing traditional services, who are experiencing persistent addictions, and may have mental health challenges.
The Inter-Agency Care Team is mobile and works collaboratively with local service providers with touchpoints at the Abbotsford Community Hub Centre, Fraser Health Authority-Mental Health and Substance Use Services (Assertive Community Treatment) office, and Abbotsford City Hall.
4. ASSERTIVE COMMUNITY TREATMENT TEAM
In 2015, the City of Abbotsford advocated for and implemented an Assertive Community Treatment team for individuals with acute mental health conditions who require enhanced Ministry of Social Development Integration and Outreach support. The Assertive Community Treatment team is funded by the Fraser Health Authority.
Inquiries can be made directly to Abbotsford Mental Health and Substance Use Services:
5. ABBOTSFORD COMMUNITY HUB CENTRE
The Abbotsford Community Hub Centre will be opening this Fall at 32883 South Fraser Way. The Community Hub is an inter-agency, integrated support service that will provide individuals experiencing complex health and social challenges with access to housing, health and pharmacy services, income assistance, essential services, and community integration supports. The Hub, which will be integrated with Positive Living Fraser Valley, Inasmuch Society-MOSAIC, Healthy Aging Abbotsford, will reduce barriers for individuals accessing vital support services.
The Community Hub is a partnership project with the Fraser Health Authority, Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Abbotsford Police Department, Positive Living of the Fraser Valley, and partners with the City of Abbotsford’s Housing and Homelessness Unit, and the Mar Mar Pharmacy.
Services will include:
6. ABBOTSFORD'S SHELTER SYSTEM
Abbotsford’s Shelter System capacity has increased from 26 year round beds to 66 year round beds on City-owned land and in the community with BC Housing and local service provider support.
The Extreme Weather mat program has increased from 26 mats to approximately 126 mats, along with transportation and outreach support services.
In 2014, Abbotsford City Council’s Task Force on Homelessness developed a plan, with the goal of ensuring that everyone in Abbotsford has a home. The focus of this plan is to create conditions that prevent homelessness and quickly support those who have become homeless. In addition, The City of Abbotsford is currently working on an affordable housing strategy update.
1. SUPPORTIVE HOUSING IN ABBOTSFORD
Supportive housing provides a range of on-site life skills, non-clinical supports and connections to health care services.
The City of Abbotsford, BC Housing have partnered on the following supportive housing projects:
Additionally, BC Housing is working with the City of Abbotsford, Look Out Society and Elizabeth Fry Society to provide 80+ units of supportive housing as a rapid response for individuals to exit homelessness. These projects are targeted for occupancy in Fall 2018. These units will come with Fraser Health Authority health services and Abbotsford Homelessness Prevention and Response System support.In addition, Mamele’awt Qweesome To’o Housing Society in partnership with Abbotsford Community Services, BC Housing and the City of Abbotsford, secured and approved 60 units of affordable rental housing for families and youth transitioning from care.
2. HOUSING WITH ABBOTSFORD RENTAL CONNECT – HARC
Housing with Abbotsford Rental Connect is a local community initiative that was developed by an Abbotsford Homelessness Prevention and Response System working group of multi-sector stakeholders who are concerned about the lack of affordable rental housing in our community. The initiative focuses on securing rental housing in the private market through the provision of wrap-around supports for tenants and property and tenant management services for owners and managers.
3. AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGY - PLAN200K
While Abbotsford offers a diverse range of housing options, the need for affordable and attainable housing continues to grow. A spectrum of housing options is required to support socio-economic, diverse neighbourhoods and allow them to thrive.
The Affordable Housing Strategy will determine the current and future housing demands and needs. The strategy will also provide information to aid the City in its decision making and partnerships with all levels of government, private sector and non-profit partners to facilitate affordable housing development.
The previous Affordable Housing Strategy was adopted in 2011 and it outlined many of the strategic objectives that have been facilitated through the past five years.
Given the fact that many of Abbotsford’s residents pay an unaffordable amount towards shelter costs and rental vacancies continue to decrease rapidly, it is important that the Affordable Housing Strategy is updated to ensure that the City of Abbotsford responds to the current market situation. The updated strategy will support the vision that all residents of Abbotsford live in safe, stable, appropriate housing that is affordable to their income level, and policies within the Strategy will support developing a wide range of market and non-market housing options.
Fostering strong community and social connections enables individuals and families to enhance their quality of life. Community Integration supports community participation through employment, education, civic engagement, recreation, wellness and social connections.
1. COMMUNITY OF INTEGRATED PRACTICE
The Community of Integrated Practice is an open learning environment that fosters multi-sectoral education, awareness and capacity building opportunities to increase knowledge and align activities to develop specific community infrastructure to support housing, social service, and community integration capacity.The following programs and topics will be explored in this forum:
2. ABBOTSFORD STORIES PROJECT
A series of videos to foster community awareness, decrease stigma associated with homelessness and increase understanding of a community-based resource approach to homelessness will be launched in Fall 2018. The videos will cover the following topics:
The Abbotsford Homelessness Prevention and Response System Performance Measurement System will communicate outcomes to the community, funding contributors, and system stakeholders. These outcomes will support the City’s decision-making process, support the alignment of activities, increase accountability with service and housing providers to achieve shared, client-centred outcomes for vulnerable populations.
Success of the system will be measured by the decrease in costs to City services, and the development of a Community Business Case that will support the City to effectively negotiate and leverage Senior Government policy, mandate, and funding support for community infrastructure, service and supports in Abbotsford. A new performance measurement dashboard will be launched in 2019. The infographic on the right displays 2018 performance measurement indicators compared to 2014.