Three Crises Response Pilot Project
The City of New Westminster has approved a two-year organizational pilot project and strategy to address the three crises of homelessness, mental health, and substance use. The pilot will focus on providing immediate support with the long-term goal of transitioning responsibility to senior levels of government.
About the Project
The proposed pilot project is based on promising practices and lessons learned from other municipalities with the objective of advancing proactive, resilient and strategic organizational approaches that can be sustained long-term. The project will involve three inter-departmental staff teams which include:
- Crises Response Team - a new team responsible for addressing community requests and complaints; providing support to those who are experiencing homelessness, mental health and substance use issues; case management services; and coordinating, responding and providing referrals to Provincial teams. This team will consist of new and existing staff with appropriate experience, skills and training;
- Operations Support Team - plays a supportive role to the new Crises Response Team. This team is made up almost exclusively of existing City staff; and
- Policy Development and Advocacy Team - lobbies senior levels of government for additional funding, resources and supports, all needed to sustainably address the needs and issues associated with the three crises. The bulk of this team is comprised of existing City staff.
The pilot project aims to take a compassionate, people-centred approach that not only considers those who are directly suffering, but City staff, and the community as a whole. The project will also be guided by principles of preventing further harm, prioritizing safety and well-being, and being proactive and responsive.
The proposed pilot project will include extensive community engagement and involvement and will see the creation of two working groups with diverse representation. The implementation working group will include First Nations and Indigenous organizations, people with lived and living experience, and representatives from community and social service agencies. The advocacy working group will include members from the business community and local residents.
Goals & Advocacy Actions:
- an extreme weather response shelter with up to 30 beds;
- a 24/7 shelter with 50 to 60 beds that also offers support services;
- a health connect and resource centre with a health and wellness focus that addresses the needs of the unsheltered, including related to case management;
- a supportive housing development with 50 to 60 units, including 10 complex care beds to support people with significant mental health and substance use issues;
- expanded outreach related to homelessness, mental health and overdose prevention;
- extended hours for the Health Contact Centre, which incorporates an overdose prevention site, and the addition of an inhalation component;
- restoration of medical services, including related to addiction, at the Health Contact Centre; and
- provision of a 24/7 sanitation trailer and reimbursement of funding for portable toilet services and bio-hazardous clean-up and disposal related to the unsheltered.