This May is Seasons House’s 10th anniversary in Quesnel.
In the past 10 years, Seasons House has sheltered more than 1,000 individuals who were experiencing homelessness in our community. On average, we serve 200 people annually experiencing homelessness, and serve many more through our Transitional Housing Program, Supportive Recovery Program, and drop-in services, which include access to healthcare supports, harm reduction supplies, the Take Home Naloxone Program, crisis intervention, and necessities such as clothing, showers, and access to laundry facilities.
In light of this special anniversary, I wanted to highlight our Homelessness Prevention Program and share some of the benefits this service provides to members of our community, as well as speak to the need for more supported and affordable housing options for people in Quesnel.
The Homelessness Prevention Program provides rental subsidies and supports to at-risk populations to help find housing in the private market and ease some of the financial burden on individuals who cannot afford market rents. Many of the individuals we provide services to on this program have a history of homelessness and experience barriers to housing. We assist them with this through the support of our homeless outreach worker. We currently have nearly 40 people housed out in the community on this program, and have supported a total of 113 people since the program began in 2015.
The homeless outreach worker helps people obtain household items such as furniture and dishes through community donations, and connects people with supports they need to maintain housing, such as healthcare supports, mental health and substance use support, trauma counselling, housekeeping, homecare supports, schooling, employment and volunteer opportunities. The homeless outreach worker also acts as a landlord liaison, to work through difficult situations and respond to both the landlord and the tenant’s needs. We have great relationships with many landlords in the community! In fact, many landlords now reach out to us to advertising their listings.
We have a homelessness crisis in our community and across this country. The answer to homelessness is not rocket science; we need to provide housing, and housing with supports, to vulnerable populations. People can succeed and find increased stability and well-being in life when they are provided with housing first. Providing housing reduces street homelessness, improves a person’s quality of life, and is proven to improve health and substance use outcomes. It reduces involvement with police and the justice system; reduces costs associated with justice system and health expenditures; and reduces hospitalization and emergency visits.
There is a direct relationship between the availability of high-quality, affordable housing in a community and the health and well-being of that community. A good supply of safe, secure, and affordable housing is the foundation for a healthy community. Investing in affordable housing is investing in communities. Seasons House encourages everyone to educate themselves on homelessness, the root causes of homelessness and Housing First. Together, we can end homelessness.
We would like to invite everyone to come out and celebrate the successes we have had providing shelter and housing to those who need it most.
Join us at our Open House May 16 from 11-2 p.m. at 146 Carson Avenue. Refreshments and cake will be provided.
Melanie MacDonald is executive director of Seasons House.