Temporary shelters are the primary strategy for combatting the housing crisis in BC. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best strategy.
While they fill a need, they’re more of a bandaid than a long-term solution.
When it comes to youth, much more support is needed to help keep them off the streets and set them up for success in their lives.
The people founding Gukwas sa Wagalus, otherwise known as “Rainbow House,” hope to provide this in Cumberland.
Rainbow House is a proposed transitional home for 2SLGBTQQIA+ youth who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. If you’ve never heard the term 2SLGBTQQIA+ before, it refers to two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and all other sexual orientations and genders.
Rainbow House differs from a regular shelter in that it will be a completely vetted and safe space meant to house youth for extended periods – not just night by night.
It also aims to be more of a communal home than a shelter.
Rainbow House will have five available bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. In addition, there will be a communal kitchen, group living space, and one live-in peer support worker to provide 24/7 support as needed.
Through creating a genuinely supportive environment, the space is intended to help youth in the valley exit the cycles that leave kids continuously ending up back on the streets.
Grant Shilling, an outreach worker at the Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness Society, described the conditions many youths in the valley experience as a constant “cycle of couch surfing and being on the street.”
He said the chances of moving ahead in society collapse once an individual is on the street, and they hope to prevent many young adults from ending up there in the first place.
“I think this is an amazing project,” Cumberland Mayor Vickey Brown said after being given the low down at the Feb 27th council meeting. “As a first project potentially for the country, I think it belongs in Cumberland because we like to do things first.”
To help get Rainbow House up and running as soon as possible, the project requested to be exempt from municipal taxes, permitting, and developmental fees.
They also asked for a $2,500 donation to help with fundraising and community awareness.
“This sounds great,” Coun. Troy Therrien said. “I’m glad you guys are taking this on. It sounds like a very worthwhile project.”
They hope to have the home up and running by the fall of next year.
To keep updated on the project or make a donation, you can head to the Rainbow House Projects website.