Support, welfare and other options for homeless people in Vancouver?
February 3, 2018 9:58 AM   Subscribe

help with resources?

I have never been to Canada and have no idea what options exits for people that are homeless. I can not and want not to go into details but a person seems to be in trouble there. I don't have the time to fly there and try to help.

1. No job, no money. What options? I am sure Canada has some kind of welfare system.
2. Mental problems. This is well possible and very likely. Options?
3. Illicit drug use. Denied by the person but still very possible. Options?

Would appreciate any advice on where he can find help. At least some addresses maybe.
posted by yoyo_nyc to Human Relations (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 


Had he had a job in the past? If so he should look into applying for unemployment insurance if he is eligible. If not he or you can call the government and get information on signing up for income assistance: 1-866 866-0800 or on the website here
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 10:45 AM on February 3, 2018


BC 211 is a non-profit service that provides referrals 24/7 related to various of the above issues. It includes the Shelter and Street Help line which publishes lists of available shelter beds every day. They also refer to mental health and alcohol/drug counselling services. I'd recommend this as a first step to get help meeting basic needs.

There is an online application for social assistance (welfare) here. If this person has no internet access, they can call 1 866 866-0800. There are a lot of picky requirements that they may or may not be able to meet, including a job search requirement. On that same page you can find information about hardship assistance for someone who cannot meet the social assistance requirements. My understanding is that getting this is really tough.

There's also disability assistance if this person's mental health concerns prevent them from completing daily activities without assistance. It's also very difficult, but I would strongly recommend Disability Alliance BC for help with applying for this if they might be eligible. The first step though is to convince a social assistance worker that they might meet the criteria in order to get an application. If they do get an application though, I'd recommend meeting with an advocate before completing the form with their doctor.

If this person might qualify for EI, there is an online application. They can also visit a Service Canada centre to apply.

Be warned that the amount of social assistance is not enough to afford private market housing in Vancouver, or most of the surroundings. BC Housing maintains a waitlist for subsidized housing, but it is years long. They have some suggestions for how to find housing on their website and information about subsidized housing providers. They also have a page on homelessness services which includes a map of all emergency housing. It includes locations around the lower mainland.

There are government employment services centres. I don't have any experience with them or know anyone who does, so I can't vouch for them. This may help with establishing a job search history for social assistance.

There's incredibly detailed information on PovNet about a variety of programs, which may be more than you need at present. There are staff members called legal advocates at many of the local non-profits who can help with various issues around applying for government services. This may be helpful if there are any legal issues affecting this person.
posted by lookoutbelow at 10:54 AM on February 3, 2018


There is a lot of supports available, but accessing them can be a beaucratic nightmare and if you can't advocate for yourself effectively you need to have someone to help. Can you hire a local social worker to go with this person to access what they need? Ideally, you want to eventually get this person into their own housing as the rest of the supports are much easier to access, but the cost of rent in Vancouver is insane. Most of my middle-class, professional, steadily employed friends have had to leave. Is there another geor graphic location that offers social support for this person? They may be better off there.

If they have a drug problem then no amount of money will solve their problem unless they acknowledge the problem and are willing to make the huge effort to address it. The drug problem may be self-medicating a mental health issue. Can you convince them to voluntarily admit themselves to the crisis psychiatric hospital ward? Unfortunately, a lot of services are set up for people who can self-advocate well or have someone that advocates for them, which circles back to hiring a social worker to help. Good luck. It is an awful situation for you to be in.
posted by saucysault at 11:25 AM on February 3, 2018


"It is an awful situation for you to be in."

I don't know him so well but well enough that I feel obligated to help. Supposedly family denies help because he "uses drugs". He denies this. From another continent the situation is really hard to judge. But thanks for the help so far.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 11:45 AM on February 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Since he has family, reach out to them. If his family is saying he uses drugs, and he is homeless despite having family, then, chances are there is a drug issue he is concealing from you. (Some families are dysfunctional but the majority would not allow a member to become homeless absent drug/mental health issues). Canada has a really strong support net, except for drug users (because the drug users are not participating in making good choices). It is actually pretty hard to end up homeless here unless you have burned through all of your family suport, all of your friend network, used benefit money for drugs, and refused to seek the free medical treatments available. I'm not sure how familiar you are with drug users but they tend to have a charisma that sucks people in. Don't send money, I hope that by connecting with his family you can triage some support he is willing to access.
posted by saucysault at 1:37 PM on February 3, 2018


You mentioned being unemployed, Vancouver is booming with jobs right now, especially entry-level service jobs (Canada on the whole is at almost full employment, and Vancouver's cost of living/high millionaire population means there are not enough workers for jobs; they can't even find enough teachers and nurses to hire right now). You don't need an address anymore to apply for job, all you need is a phone. So getting a cheap (not worth pawning phone) non-smartphone may help them. They can apply online/print out resumes at the library.
posted by saucysault at 3:20 PM on February 3, 2018


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