Does Revelstoke need an emergency housing shelter for people in crisis? A new study commissioned by the Revelstoke Community Housing Society seeks to answer that question.
Revelstoke business analyst Nicole Fricot worked on a report entitled Emergency Shelter Feasibility Study over the past year, and will present the findings later this month.
In an interview with the Revelstoke Mountaineer, Fricot said the homelessness issue is hard to quantify due to gaps in the data.
What can be said is homelessness in Revelstoke is often a hidden phenomena. For example, homelessness can mean people living in condemned buildings, couch surfing with others, overcrowding in rental units, exchanging sex for shelter, staying in motels or just giving up and leaving town. Fricot said many people associate homelessness with individuals with acute addiction or mental health issues who live rough downtown, but the reality is it’s more pervasive and nuanced than that.
“There is a consistent population of homeless individuals living in Revelstoke year after year,” Fricot states in the report. “In addition, more recently, increasing rental rates and extremely low vacancy rates have put increased pressure on already limited housing options, increasing the risk of homelessness particularly for vulnerable populations and individuals on fixed incomes.”
During her study, Fricot found that an emergency shelter is needed, but in order for it to be effective, housing options are needed for after a client’s short-term, 60-day shelter stay ends.
“Most emergency shelters in B.C. are heavily overrun,” Fricot said in an interview with the Revelstoke Mountaineer. “We would definitely have trouble finding housing for people after 60 days, so we need the next step, and currently we don’t have the next step, we don’t have supportive housing, or something for people who are living in emergency shelters to move to.”
The report’s recommendations include developing a 3–4-unit emergency shelter, creating about 16 units of semi-independent supportive housing, seeking provincial-level funding, partnering with Community Connections to operate the facility, and also providing other supports to the individuals through the shelter.
The report will be presented publicly on April 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Revelstoke Community Centre.
The Revelstoke Mountaineer interviewed Fricot about the housing report. Click the play icon in the SoundCloud app below to hear the interview. We’ve also embedded a PDF of the report in a Scribd document below at the very end of this story.