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Government of British Columbia

NEWS RELEASE- For Immediate Release - April 14, 2008 - 2008OTP0087-000521

Office of the Premier

BC Housing

32 NEW TRANSITION BEDS FOR HOMELESS YOUTH

VANCOUVER - Premier Gordon Campbell was joined by provincial and community partners today to celebrate a $5 million funding partnership for a major expansion to Covenant House Vancouver, a shelter and resource centre for homeless youth.

"The services provided by Covenant House make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of young, at-risk British Columbians every year," said Campbell. "Transitional housing can be the turning point for homeless youth. This project will get more young people off the streets and into a secure environment while they get the help they need to plan for healthier futures."

A total provincial contribution of $4.75 million and additional funding from VANOC will allow Covenant House Vancouver to open 32 new transitional housing beds for youth, ages 16 to 22, at its Pender Street location.

"This project goes well beyond providing hot meals and warm beds for youth involved in street life," said Tom Christensen, Minister of Children and Family Development. "The Covenant House initiative provides a continuum of services for those who need it most."

"This is another major step the Province is taking to provide new and expanded support for homeless youth and those at risk of homelessness," said Rich Coleman, Minister responsible for Housing. "The province's $250 million Housing Endowment Fund supports new and innovative housing solutions, like this one, to break the cycle of homelessness."

Covenant House Vancouver provides shelter, food, clothing and counselling to over 1,400 young people each year. For homeless youth who have the opportunity to receive Covenant House support services, an estimated 65 per cent go on to live independent lives.

"Providing stable supports for young people who want to make positive changes in their lives increases self-esteem, encourages self-sufficiency and promotes safe, healthy communities," said Claude Richmond, Minister of Employment and Income Assistance.

"Covenant House is thrilled to be receiving the Province of British Columbia's support which will allow us to welcome an additional 400 young people into our shelter, thereby doubling our capacity over the next three years," said Krista Thompson, Covenant House executive director. "We applaud the Province for its commitment to the issue of homelessness and the progress being made to help those with nowhere to call home."

In addition to the 32 new transition beds, Covenant House will be able to open a communal kitchen, lounge area and additional space for programs and services.

"Vancouver 2010 is pleased to be part of such an important youth housing initiative with Covenant House," said John Furlong, chief executive officer for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. "We have a commitment to help provide short-term housing during the Games so we are pleased we can be a part of a permanent legacy, not just a temporary solution by investing in this expansion project that will provide at-risk youth with shelter support they might need before, during and after the Games,"

Increasing affordable housing, reducing homelessness and helping those who cannot help themselves is a key agenda for the Province of British Columbia. Budget 2008 increased the amount the Province invests in affordable housing and shelters to more than $380 million a year, more than three times as much as in 2001.

Media contact:

Bridgitte Anderson

Press Secretary

Office of the Premier

604-307-7177