Society looks to run Gordon shelter
A Tri-City group involved in homeless outreach programs will bid next month to run the new homeless shelter and transitional housing facility in Coquitlam.
Rob Thiessen of the Hope For Freedom Society told The Tri-City News yesterday his group will apply to BC Housing to manage the centre planned for 3030 Gordon Ave.
“I think that, in the Tri-City area, we are probably in the best position to operate that shelter,” he said, noting the group’s work with the cold/wet weather programs at local churches and its residential rehabilitation programs for drug and alcohol addicts.
Last week, BC Housing issued a tender for non-profit agencies and private operators to submit plans to design, develop and manage the 60-bed shelter and transitional accommodation for Tri-City homeless; the tender closes Oct. 3.
Thiessen, who said he was unaware of other bidders at this time, said he expects “it’ll be some time before a winner is chosen and the shelter is built, so there’s going to be some interim gap issues.”
Last month, Coquitlam city council approved the paperwork that would allow the society to set up a cold/wet weather mat program this winter at Coquitlam Alliance Church, Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship and Calvary Baptist Church, the same three venues that have been used for the past three years as temporary sleeping quarters for the homeless (Port Coquitlam and Port Moody councils have also approved a mat program in a church in their cities).
Sandy Burpee of the Tri-Cities Homelessness Task Group said his organization will have a representative on the BC Housing committee to make a decision on the permanent shelter operator.
News that BC Housing has issued a request-for-proposals “is great. It feels like a long-time coming but I guess that’s just part of the typical process.”
Burpee said he isn’t worried that the provincial government has yet to announce capital funding for the shelter. “I remain optimistic about it because BC Housing wouldn’t have initiated the request unless they were comfortable that a commitment would be forthcoming,” he said.
In May, during a ground-breaking for Como Lake Gardens, a YWCA project that will house 30 low-income single moms and their kids in Coquitlam and is due to open next spring, BC Housing Minister Rich Coleman cited 3030 Gordon as a “priority project that’s on the list so it’s the next project that I will manage to get funding [for],” he said. “Hopefully in the next couple of months.”
In an email yesterday, a Ministry of Housing spokesperson said, “Once a successful proponent is identified more detailed plans can be developed. That way, construction can proceed more quickly once funding is identified.”