Mission Community Services Society (MCSS) is receiving a $14,000 grant from the District of Mission to offset this year’s property taxes for a building on Logan Avenue.
Last September, the non-profit society was denied a permissive tax exemption because Mission council wanted to send a strong message to service providers to clean up around Haven in the Hollow, a first-stage housing facility located at 32646 Logan Ave., operated by MCSS.
Now more than five months later, steps have been taken, said Mayor Ted Adlem.
MCSS executive director Sanjay Gulati and his team have met with Mission’s bylaw enforcement officer, neighbouring businesses and residents to address their concerns. MCSS has also joined Adopt-A-Block to pick up litter around the area, posted drug-free zone signs around the building, and relocated an outreach worker from MCSS’ main office on Second Avenue to Haven in the Hollow in order to provide more support to clients and others in the community.
And beginning this spring, open houses will be held once a month at Haven and Rivendell, a second-stage housing facility also run by MCSS, at 7755 Grand St.
“Anyone can come and engage with us and see the premises,” Gulati explained. “We are part of the community, and our clients are residents of Mission.”
This will help people understand some of the challenges homeless people going through MCSS face, he added.
“Once people understand the challenges, they can be more sympathetic,” Gulati noted. “A lot of times people have misconceptions because of a lack of knowledge.”
A date for the first open house has not yet been set.
Adlem says communication between MCSS and the community, including the district, has improved, but believes there will always be complaints about the shelter.
“It’s easy to blame everything on the homeless and to a degree, homeless people become targets,” said Adlem. “We can’t blame [MCSS] for what other people do around the place … Clearly there is more homeless than the shelter can handle.”
The first-stage housing facility is something the community needs, but Adlem isn’t convinced it’s located in the right place.
“We want to work with them to find a better spot,” said the mayor, who described the area as wasted land for business.
Haven in the Hollow has 15 beds in the men’s dorm, five in the women’s dorm, and a family room. Extra mats are also set up when temperatures dip below the freezing mark. As well, MCSS’ food centre operates out of the Logan Avenue building.
Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve the grant, which will also pay for the year’s school taxes, hospital taxes and taxes to other authorities (like Fraser Valley Regional District) in addition to municipal taxes.