Home for one, to start

Posted on June 14, 2011

By Gary McKenna – The Tri-City News

After two years of haggling with the provincial government and cutting through kilometres of red tape, Port Coquitlam’s Homes for Good Society has successfully housed its first client.

Since the beginning of June, the organization has housed a woman in a basement suite in PoCo using funding from the Soroptimist Society.

The initiative follows the housing-first strategy, which places homeless people in market-based housing and tops up their welfare cheque with private contributions. The model has been successful in other places, including Toronto and New York.

“It was a long time coming and it was a lot of work,” said PoCo Mayor Greg Moore, who launched the initiative in 2009. “I think the whole group was overjoyed.”

Discussions are currently underway to house a second client and he added that as the society connects more people with places to live, the process will get easier.

While Homes for Good didn’t achieve its goal of housing 40 people by the end of 2010, Moore said with the latest success, he believes the initiative is on track. The organization now expects to house 20 people by the end of 2011, he said, noting it wants to double that number by the end of 2012.

“There will be some bumps along the way but we will learn from those and not make the same mistakes twice,” he said. “Housing the second, third and fourth person will be a lot more efficient.”

The society is now applying to the Canada Revenue Agency to receive charity status. Once that process has concluded, Moore said the organization can focus on its fundraising efforts and provide tax receipts to people who contribute.

Housing its first client has been a long time coming for the society. One of the major hold-ups to the program, Moore said, was the fact regulations stipulate a person who receives monthly government assistance cannot receive an outside taxable benefit.  The extra income the society provides its clients for market-based rents would make recipients ineligible for welfare and the programs that come with it.

After consultations with Housing Minister Rich Coleman, some of the barriers were removed and the Homes for Good Society was able to move forward.

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