Homeless, community programs at Richmond’s St. Albans at risk

It’s the business of St. Alban’s Church to put a roof over the heads of people in need. Now, the church is looking to the community to help put a roof over its own head – literally.

The church roof is leaking, badly, and has been for 10 years. While they’ve patched up sections of it, the problem has just gotten worse and is now threatening the church’s ability to provide the very services for which it has become so well known.

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“What happens is the water just moved down to the next section (of the roof) it could get in,” said Rev. Paula Leggett, who began working at St. Alban’s in September 2018, and was confronted with the issue of the leaking roof almost immediately.

A tour of the church’s administrative and community hall building showed large water stains on the walls, ceilings and carpets, spread over two floors, and water damage to the hall’s stage.

“There’s places upstairs where you can see the drainage on the walls, and the carpets get flooded; we have buckets out to collect the rain, we get rain down here,” said Leggett, explaining that the rain has come down to the working level of the building, and is also affecting the rental suites on the upper floor.  

Leggett proposed relocating the community hall and tearing down the existing building and finding a community partner, but that process – with all the licensing and architectural plans included – would take up to eight years.

“And in the meantime, the leaks are growing, the rain is getting harder, heavier, every year,” said Leggett. “And it’s coming now on the stage, it’s soon to come (down) here in the hall, which is where we do a lot of work with the community.”

St. Alban’s currently runs a wide-range of programs centred on helping those in need, including the Friday lunch, the community meal and Sunday food delivery, and hosts groups such as AA and Homeless Connect, all of which are now at risk.

The only solution left is to replace the entire roof.

The estimated cost of that replacement is between $80,000 and $100,000, said Leggett, and the church just doesn’t have that kind of money.

But if something isn’t done soon, the vital community programs that are run out of the church will be without a home by the fall, and the constant leaks are already affecting the church’s outreach and meal programs.

“How would you name bad?” Leggett answered, when asked by the Richmond News how bad the leaks were this past winter.

The church wants to replace the roof before the “big rains” this fall, said Leggett, which leaves little time to raise the funds needed, although the congregation donated $10,000 for the roof fund.  

Now, the church and congregation are reaching out to the community for help, said Leggett, in the hopes of raising the necessary funds to fix the leaky roof. They hope to be able to start the work in the next month.

Donations can be mailed to St. Albans Church, citing “roof fund.”

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