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Daytime wellness shelter coming for Chilliwack residents experiencing homelessness

Day shelter with wrap-around supports in Chilliwack ‘of great importance, value’ said advisory board
Individual leaving homeless camp on Oct. 23, 2017 in Chilliwack after everyone was evicted. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)

A daytime “wellness shelter” will one day provide wrap-around care and a safe place to rest for those experiencing homelessness in Chilliwack.

Funding of $133,000 to establish a day shelter was one of four initiatives endorsed by city council Tuesday, coming out of a net allocation of $499,672 from Chilliwack’s Reaching Home funding for 2021-2022.

The idea came directly from the Reaching Home community advisory board, which according to minutes of its May 19 meeting suggested that a wellness shelter in the community operated during daylight hours “was of great importance and value.”

This initial level of funding to establish the shelter project would be bolstered by additional funding from various community partners, said the staff report, and once funding is in place, a formal request for proposals (RFP) process from City of Chilliwack will select the project proponent.

Other Reaching Home funding allocations for the 2022/2023 fiscal year:

• Youth Outreach - $168,672.00;

• Prevention and Shelter Diversion - $145,000.00;

• Additional Outreach - $53,000.00.

“City staff reached out to Chilliwack service organizations, including Indigenous partners, that work with individuals experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of homelessness, seeking input regarding current gaps in services in the community,” the report explained.

Priorities that came out of the consultation with partner input included: wellness shelter, youth outreach, prevention/shelter diversion, and weekend outreach.

The Reaching Home Funding will only cover a small portion of a larger wellness shelter project setup including a supervisor and shelter oversight. Other shelter costs will rely on funding from a combination of government partners.

Chilliwack became a designated Reaching Home community in 2020, which made it eligible for the federal homelessness funding. That marked the first time Chilliwack could apply for stable, long-term funding to fight homelessness.

After the 2017 homeless count, it was determined that Chilliwack had the highest rate of people experiencing homelessness in the region. There were 221 people in Chilliwack who self-identified as homeless in 2017, and that number jumped to 306 people in 2020.

RELATED: Chilliwack eligible for Reaching Home funding as designated community

RELATED: Reaching Home grants to help community pivot during pandemic

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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