We are in the process of sunsetting the storage program. Participants already enrolled in the program will have access to their storage spaces until October 25, 2019, when our permit to operate expires. Meanwhile, work is underway to install lockers upstairs for the 60 shelter residents residing at First United. Program participants not living in the shelter will have access to their unit until the 25th. All participants receive reminders on a daily basis. Please note we are no longer accepting new intakes.
As the program ends, we send thanks to the countless volunteers, donors, funders, and partners who have enabled us to deliver this program. We gratefully acknowledge Connor, Clark and Lunn and Hockey Helps the Homeless for their recent sponsorship and the City of Vancouver for their ongoing support.
When we first opened in 2010, the storage program was one of a kind. It was designed as a volunteer-run facility to house shopping carts for street homeless in a safe, secure facility. Our aim was to free community members up to take advantage of basic necessities most of us take for granted – like accessing shelter, having a meal, or looking for work – with the confidence that their belongings would be there when they returned. We are proud to have delivered on this aim for the past eight years. Today, the shelter program operates with 2.56 fulltime staff running 204 storage spaces.
While the importance of a safe place to store one’s possessions when homeless or precariously housed has not changed, we are facing significant, ongoing health and safety issues maintaining the facility and program. In 2017 we undertook a sensitive listening project to guide our strategic planning and decision making in situations like this. In that process, storage was not identified by the community as a critical resource at First United. As a result of that community feedback and the pressing needs elsewhere in the organization (such as the meal program and drop-in), we have decided to forgo the necessary upgrades, resign our permit to operate, and sunset the program.
At this time, there is no alternate storage program in the neighbourhood that we are aware of. We are in preliminary discussions with the City of Vancouver to support them in launching a similar initiative elsewhere in the neighbourhood. If anything comes of this we will be sure to post an update here.
If you have staff or volunteers who make referrals to our programs, we would appreciate it if you would pass this information along. Thank you!