City of Vancouver to spend $2.5 million on street cleaning jobs for the homeless in 2023

Feb 10 2023, 8:00 pm

A longtime City of Vancouver annual program that provides non-profit organizations with grant funding to perform street cleaning duties is expected to be renewed by Vancouver City Council next week.

The highly-received program provides funding for organizations to hire individuals experiencing homelessness and other low-income people to perform street cleaning.

This year, the grant program will see a significant funding increase, growing from $2.185 million in 2022 to $2.459 million in 2023. This is also up from $1.615 million in pre-pandemic 2019.

The 2023 funding includes $1.183 million for micro-cleaning services, which involves the daily collection of litter and needles on foot using brooms, shovels, and wheeled garbage carts. This kind of work is typically not performed by City crews.

Another $637,000 will support the micro-cleaning efforts of business improvement associations (BIAs), as well as $284,000 for the micro-cleaning of public plazas, $100,000 to continue the feces collection pilot program, $55,000 for The Binners’ Project, and $200,000 for City Council’s new priority direction of supporting Vancouver’s Chinatown district. The added investments specifically for Chinatown account for most of the year-over-year funding increase.

The funding supports cleaning efforts in hot spots across Vancouver, including areas outside the downtown Vancouver peninsula, such as Commercial Drive, Olympic Village, Central Broadway, and along several arterial roads. Of course, the most problematic areas are in and around downtown, including the Downtown Eastside, Chinatown, Gastown, Granville strip, and Strathcona.

The 2023 funding will be divided among six experienced and proven non-profit organizations that have been part of the program for many years.

The ongoing annual street cleaning program includes $950,000 for Mission Possible Compassionate Ministries Society’s MP Maintenance program, $663,000 for Coast Mental Health Foundation’s Employment Services program, $469,000 for United We Can’s Save Our Living Environment program, $73,000 for Family Services of Greater Vancouver’s Street Youth Job Action program, The Kettle Society’s SEED Employment program, and $55,000 for MakeWay Charitable Society’s The Binners’ Project.

The new street cleaning specifically for Chinatown includes an additional $128,000 for Mission Possible Compassionate Ministries Society and $72,000 for Coast Mental Health Foundation.

Such funding provides meaningful low-barrier jobs while supporting the municipal government’s goal of improving street cleanliness and health safety.

Each year, in exchange for grant funding, the non-profit organizations are required to report on their metrics.

In 2022, this street cleaning program collected 34,000 bags of garbage, 110,000 needles, and 21,000 feces over an area of seven sq km, 25 plazas, and within 22 areas of BIAs.

In contrast, in pre-pandemic 2019, the program collected 14,800 bags of garbage and 72,000 needles. Over the first year of the feces collection program in 2021, it removed 13,000 feces.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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