CSNW’s Ninja Housing Team

CSNW’s housing department currently works with over 200 individuals and families in obtaining or maintaining housing. They work hand in hand with outreach teams to interact with more than a dozen homelessness camps in the Vancouver area, and assist those in need. The services that the housing team provides goes hand in hand with these outreach programs, a fact that was made clear when Sherry Murphy, from the PACT team, wanted to publically acknowledge the hard work that housing is doing. She said, “They’ve been a godsend. It feels like they are a part of our PACT team. We could not have asked for better—they go above and beyond!  It’s so hard to find all of the words to describe them…they really are the best!”

Housing always seemed to be maneuvering under the radar, like a team of ninjas, trying to get people housed. In this market, that has not been easy at all….it takes ferocious care… It’s that tenacity and passion that they show in their work that shines through to others.”

Housing services  is an ever changing landscape depending upon many factors including State and Federal focus on best practices and support provided. During this snapshot in time, we are witnessing an overall focus on permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless.  From the federal level on down, housing funding, eligibility criteria and best practice standards all require that housing programs service chronically homeless individuals in permanent supportive housing models.  Those who may have slipped through the systems’ cracks due to their inability to access services. CSNW’s approach to this has been to co-locate the MH programs that are already serving these individuals with our housing programs.  This has opened up some of those valuable resources for populations who are most in need and historically have been underserved due to their barriers.

When housing, PACT, PATH and CST 3 were moved to Town Plaza, one of the ideas was that there would be increased collaboration and synergy.  Now that these teams are operating out of one location, there seems to be a culture of working together and integration. By working together around Projects such as Lincoln Place and HUD permanent supportive housing program expansion it’s been possible to place those who only a few months ago, were on the streets or in the woods.

Jeff Pugh, a Mental Health Clinician who works as a part of the housing department said, “In regards to the work that we all do, each team member in housing has worked so hard to serve our clients and get them housed. Housing always seemed to be maneuvering under the radar, like a team of ninjas, trying to get people housed. In this market, that has not been easy at all….it takes ferocious care… It’s that tenacity and passion that they show in their work that shines through to others.”

Housing staff still has to maneuver many of the challenges in procuring placement. The market in Vancouver has seen sharp rental increases, and an influx in population, making it more difficult to secure homes for clients with barriers. However, Michelle Quesada, the Housing and Homeless Services Manager, says “Housing staff has never been so qualified and dedicated to seeking housing for those who in the past would have been challenging to house at best… It is great to be part of an agency where clinicians from different teams come together to collaborate on behalf of clients who share services, and do so with grace—each staff doing their part creating successful outcomes for all”