I’s on the Street is an award winning outreach/support services program that engages homeless or at-risk-of-being-homeless persons into supervised employment cleaning the sidewalks/streets in front of local businesses. It is based on a proven model with 30 years of success in Metro Vancouver and is designed to serve as a “stepping stone” to regular employment.
Participants are first connected to the support services they need (i.e., shelter and housing, health and safety, addictions and mental health, employment, and job training), and once stabilized the focus is turned to social integration and enhancing self-worth through employment. Participants become empowered, building habits and attitudes needed to be self-supporting members of the community.
Living with mental health or addiction problems and/or finding oneself homeless is a stigmatizing and profoundly humiliating experience. Indeed, when individuals seek help they usually do so with a long list of issues that need attention. The I’s on the Street program helps by constructing a prioritized plan of action towards building stability. Then it is vital to work on their skills development through employment, which rebuilds confidence and self-respect.
Programs like I’s on the Street empower individuals to be self-reliant once again. The program starts with the belief that there is inherent dignity in any useful work that contributes to the betterment of the community. By interfacing with the community in roles in which they are valued instead of feared, they develop and enhance positive self-worth, which in turn better prepares them to function effectively in other areas of their lives.
The program has operated with financial support from the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area (DBIA) in the downtown core since its inception, and thanks to a City of New Westminster supported Strengthening Communities grant from the Union of BC Municipalities in 2021/22 we were able to expand I’s on the Street from the downtown business area to Sapperton and the Uptown of New Westminster. It is a unique partnership between NWHCS, Lookout Housing and Health Society, Elizabeth Fry Society and Fraserside Community Services New Leaf clubhouse. The NWHCS gratefully acknowledges the support of all these partners.
I’s on the Street is working towards sustainability and is open to supporting community events by providing our services on a fee for service basis. If this is something you or your organization might be interested in or you would like more information on how you can support I’s On The Street, email us.