The Housing First program has managed to house 15 people in Williams Lake this year, in spite of the difficulties surrounding the summer’s wildfires.
Program Manager Anne Burill gave Williams Lake mayor and council the good news about the program’s successes during an update to city council Nov. 21.
Since June, the program, which is funded by the federal government and United Way, has housed 15 people who would otherwise be homeless — 20 altogether since the pilot project kicked off last year.
Burrill told the Tribune the work is very rewarding.
“We’ve seen people’s lives stabilized. They’ve gone back to school, they’re happier, they are more functional,” she said, noting others have gone to treatment or have been able to return to work once properly housed.
“You don’t have a lot of control over your life when you’re homeless.”
The program is run with one full-time and one part-time staff and assists clients in finding homes for residents considered hard to house.
Clients may suffer from mental illness, disabilities, addictions, poverty, or be escaping abusive relationships or a combination of all or some of those issues that can lead to homelessness, Burrill said.
Housing First works in partnership with local landlords as much as possible, with three local partnerships currently, and helps clients with everything from finding a place to live, to getting house supplies and finding furniture as well as connecting them with other community services.
Burrill said she is very pleased with the program’s success, reporting all residents who were evacuated during the summer months returned to their homes and their positive paths.
The program is in year one of a three-year pilot funded by Vancouver Foundation. She said they currently have 32 applications from potential clients waiting for Housing First.
READ MORE: Williams Lake homeless surveyed