Lived experience group could help city tackle homelessness in Richmond

People who have experienced homelessness in Richmond could gather to share their stories and help guide the city’s homeless initiatives if council endorses a proposed lived experiences group next week.

A draft terms of reference for the group is on the agenda for Monday’s general purposes meeting, along with a similar draft for the Richmond community homelessness table.

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Both initiatives are being developed as part of the city’s first homelessness strategy in 17 years, which was approved in September.

Involving people who have lived experience was one of the main points of debate before the homelessness strategy was passed.

If endorsed, the initiatives would be implemented early next year.

The lived experience group would be made up of five to 10 people who have all experienced homelessness and poverty in Richmond, either currently or in the past. The group would meet on a quarterly basis.

While group sessions could help the city design new policies, programs and initiatives to tackle homelessness in Richmond, it would also provide group members the opportunity to learn new skills, such as governance or committee participation, according to a city report.

“As much as possible, members will be selected to represent the diversity of individuals experiencing homelessness in the community, including adults, youths, seniors, women and men,” reads the report.

The group’s specific activities would include, for example, sharing personal experiences; identifying specific issues and gaps in Richmond homeless services; and helping to organize an annual community homelessness forum.

The homelessness table would monitor and guide the implementation of the city’s homelessness strategy. Membership of this table will be comprised of local non-profits and government agencies.

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