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Richmond opens new emergency response centre

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 5:01 PDT, Fri May 22, 2020

Richmond’s new emergency response centre, which opened this week, provides safe self-isolation for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The facility—which operates on a referral-only basis—is located in city centre. It was developed after the province reached out to Richmond via BC Housing to establish a location in the community. Long-standing non-profit housing provider Turning Point Recovery Society was chosen to manage the centre.

We have significant experience working with vulnerable populations in the local community and will have staff on-site 24/7 to provide daily meals, cleaning services and peer support,” says executive director Brenda Plant. 

The site has 45 beds for individuals experiencing homelessness, and includes access to food, showers, social supports and service connections. Referrals will come from community service providers, outreach workers, RCMP and health care staff.

“Those we expect to see referred will not just be people experiencing homelessness and living on the streets of Richmond, but individuals who may have received hospital care or health services and have no fixed address,” says Plant. “This is not a drop-in centre, and its focus is addressing the needs of those looking for shelter in Richmond.”

Individuals can stay for as long as they need during the site’s period of operation. Plant says intake will be gradual to ensure a safe transition for people entering the centre.

Before they are admitted, individuals will be assessed and tested for COVID-19 by Vancouver Coastal Health. Mayor Malcolm Brodie said people who display COVID-19 symptoms will be transferred to a hotel to prevent spreading the virus within the newly-opened facility.

While the centre is anticipated to close in August, Plant says its opening is an important step in the development of long-term accommodation and supports for people seeking shelter in Richmond.

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