This Thursday, April 14th, supporters of the New Fountain Shelter will be hosting a 24 hour soccer marathon at the Vancouver Art Gallery as a launch for their campaign to keep the shelter open. Organizers are getting ready to provide participants with plenty of food, live music, soccer, and a letter-writing tent to help voice their support.
The New Fountain, a shelter which consistently manages to keep about 40 people off the streets every night, is one of three Homeless Emergency Action Team (HEAT) shelters set to be closed in just over two weeks once provincial funding runs out.
"Our goal with this is to bring everyone together and recognize the importance and success of the [HEAT] shelters," Vancouver Parks Board Commissioner and New Fountain manager Sarah Blyth told Megaphone.
"We want to continue helping people get housed, and we want to keep seeing people get off the streets."
Even today as the closure deadline looms, shelters like the New Fountain remain at capacity, highlighting this community's undeniable need for such low-barrier emergency resources.
"We continue to house people, to be full, and with this event we want to bring awareness to the province and to BC Housing about the good work we do," said Blyth.
Combatting homelessness means getting the ball rolling on a variety of accessible programs and keeping them in place until the situation improves; that much seems clear, though there is really no easy fix.
To be sure, the opening of buildings like the new Station Street project is a step in the right direction, as everyone would agree we need more long-term housing units; what doesn't make sense here, though, is the idea that introducing one resource to serve those at risk of street homelessness should render another similar resource unnecessary, thereby pushing more people back onto the streets.
It seems everyone involved from municipal to provincial levels likes talking about how committed they are to the fight against homelessness. In the coming weeks, we'll see how serious they really are.
For more information, or to RSVP to the 24-hour soccer marathon, check out its Facebook page. The marathon starts at 7:45am April 14th and ends at 7:45 April 15th. If you can't make it but would still like to contribute to the cause, please send letters of support to [email protected] or [email protected].