BC Housing to work with Port Alberni Shelter Society to implement report recommendations
PORT ALBERNI – BC Housing secured a third-party contractor to conduct an independent review of operational concerns about the Port Alberni Shelter Society’s (PASS) management of two shelters as well as their housing in the community.
The report identifies ten key recommendations to enhance services to clients and to support the Port Alberni Shelter Society’s continued operations. Due to privacy considerations, we have released an executive summary of the report and the list of recommendations.
BC Housing will be accepting all the recommendations.
BC Housing is committed to supporting the Society to ensure clients in the community feel welcome, safe and valued and support cultural safety for Indigenous clients. Going forward, BC Housing will continue to work with the society’s board of directors and community partners to ensure the recommendations are implemented, some of which the society’s Board has already initiated.
We appreciate the consultant’s care and attention to developing a thorough report that is the culmination of multiple interviews with clients, community members, the Port Alberni Shelter Society Board of Directors and community partners. The executive summary has been shared with the Port Alberni Shelter Society Board of Directors, the City of Port Alberni and Island Health.
The following includes recommendations from the report and BC Housing’s corresponding action plan:
Report recommendation 1: BC Housing should consider the development of an alternate shelter/housing site in Port Alberni with strong mental health and substance use supports. It should be developed collaboratively with local Indigenous representatives to create a service that is welcoming for Indigenous people. To ensure diversity and choice in the community an alternate service provider would be beneficial.
- ACTION: BC Housing will continue conversations with the City of Port Alberni and Island Health on increasing sheltering and housing solutions focused on people with higher support needs.
Report recommendation 2: BC Housing should review service restriction and eviction procedures with PASS and ensure that only those who present an imminent health and safety threat are considered for time-limited-service restrictions and evictions. Clearer guidelines for implementing and completing a service restriction should be developed.
- ACTION: BC Housing will review service restriction and eviction procedures with PASS to ensure they contain clear and transparent guidelines for when a service restriction is used. BC Housing recommends the continuation of the community-based, arm's-length Review Committee overseeing service restrictions.
Report recommendation 3: BC Housing should work with PASS to develop more accessible and client-centred complaint and appeal processes for evictions and service restrictions at Our Home, including options for clients who are unable to read or write.
- ACTION: BC Housing will support PASS to develop an accessible and client-centred/easy to understand complaint and appeal process, including providing a sample template to PASS, if required.
Report recommendation 4: BC Housing should review current staffing levels at the Emergency Shelter, CES/EWR, and Second Stage Housing operated by PASS to ensure minimum barrier shelter standards can be safely maintained.
- ACTION: BC Housing will be reviewing society operations to ensure adequate staffing levels.
Report recommendation 5: BC Housing should work with PASS to ensure the safety of women in their co-ed facilities, adhering to principles of safe access, safe shared spaces, safe sleeping areas, and privacy. PASS must develop practices and standards that minimize the risk of violence and ensure the specialized safety and security needs, specifically for women, are met.
- ACTION: BC Housing will review PASS’s current shelter layout to ensure it adheres to BC Housing’s shelter design guidelines and includes separate and secure sleeping areas for women and allows for safe access and shared spaces.
- ACTION: BC Housing will ensure all PASS staff have completed the Online Domestic Violence Safety Planning Training. In addition, BC Housing will facilitate training through HSABC and BCSTH on women’s safety in co-ed shelters.
Report recommendation 6: BC Housing should provide clearer guidance regarding best practices for actively welcoming Indigenous peoples to use shelter and housing services and PASS should embed local First Nations culture at its facilities through building stronger relationships with local First Nations and improving Indigenous representation in the organization.
- ACTION: BC Housing and the society will work in partnership with the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, Tseshaht First Nation and Hupačasath First Nation on building stronger relationships with Indigenous communities.
Report recommendation 7: PASS must provide more in-depth and effective training and upgrading to their staff and management:
- to be more client-centred, work with sensitivity and be trauma informed.
- in mental health related topics including de-escalation and violence prevention.
- for cultural safety, specifically for Indigenous clients, including awareness of local First Nations history.
- for domestic violence and safety for women in co-ed shelters.
- ACTION: BC Housing will request an updated list of all staff and their current training levels. Based on the review of the list and any gaps of training, BC Housing will facilitate training through the Homelessness Services Association of BC. In addition, BC Housing will ensure that PASS’s policy for hiring reflects that this training be commenced within 30 days of employment.
Report recommendation 8: BC Housing should work with the PASS Board of Directors to develop capacity, improve accountability to the community, and to engage in relationship building with other non-profit organizations, local government, and local First Nations communities.
- ACTION: BC Housing and the society will work in partnership with the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, Tseshaht First Nation, and Hupačasath First Nation on building stronger relationships with Indigenous communities.
Report recommendation 9: BC Housing should support the PASS Board of Directors to conduct an immediate review.
- ACTION: BC Housing will support PASS in the review of the policies and procedures to ensure clear, client-centred, unbiased and standardized protocols which meet the needs of the Port Alberni community.
Report recommendation 10: BC Housing should consider establishing a Community Homelessness Group in Port Alberni with oversight and advisory functions. One of its responsibilities could be to monitor service provision to people experiencing homelessness in the community. Membership should include the City of Port Alberni, local Indigenous leadership, and Island Health .
- ACTION: BC Housing will establish a Community Homelessness Group. As part of the role of this committee, there will be a review of PASS operating policies and procedures at the shelters.