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More funding approved for Richmond food outreach program

City councillors expressed their frustration with the lack of action from senior levels of government.
A homeless encampment is overshadowed by the Holiday Inn in Richmond.

Richmond city council will provide Church on Five $54,000 in additional funds to help with after-hours food outreach to the city’s street-entrenched homeless population.

This was unanimously approved by city council on Monday afternoon – with an expected final approval at Monday evening’s council meeting.

This will allow Church on Five to hire a second outreach worker in addition to their current lead outreach worker.

But part of the motion was to advocate to senior levels of government “for ongoing funding for municipalities to support the significant increase in homelessness and food insecurity in communities.”

“The ineptness of those levels of government to deal with such a critical issue that is within their portfolio is very telling,” said Coun. Kash Heed at Monday afternoon’s meeting. “We have stepped up as a local government to fill the void, but we have to put that continual pressure and deal with their ineptness and point it out continually.”

Coun. Bill McNulty echoed this sentiment, saying advocating to the province for funding for 2025 should start now.

“I believe there needs to be an aggressive lobby to the provincial government – we’re picking up all the pieces, not just this area but we’re picking up everywhere,” McNulty said.

“We need to flood the MPs and MLAs and say ‘you better get your act together,’” McNulty added.

City council also approved about $24,000 in additional funding for Pathways Clubhouse and about $12,000 to St. Alban’s Anglican Church for their food programs. This will bring their total grants this year to $60,000 and $50,000 respectively.

Church on Five outreach worker Hugh Freiberg told the Richmond News he sees the number of homeless people increasing in Richmond with more and more living in RVS and vehicles.

In a report to city council, city staff noted that COVID-19 funding for unhoused people, for a drop-in centre, a shower program, warming centres and a food outreach program, ended on March 31.

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