Lookout Housing and Health Society pioneered full-service, minimal-barrier shelters including case planning/management, beginning in 1971 by offering 3-beds to homeless men. As the demand grew, Lookout rented space in different locations until the organization opened its first shelter in downtown Vancouver in 1981. Lookout’s shelters operate 24 hours a day and provide a range of services and support, including crisis interventions, access to a phone and Internet, laundry, a change of clothing and showering facilities.
Lookout’s shelters serve Vancouver (both the Downtown Eastside and Central Vancouver), Surrey, the North Shore, Abbotsford and New Westminster. Lookout staff focus on case plans and work with guests to find suitable housing options – a challenge given the lack of affordable housing in the Lower Mainland.
Lookout’s Current Shelter Options:
Lookout shelters are pet friendly, include onsite storage for valuables, 3 meals per day, 24 hour staffing, harm reduction supplies and some even have spaces suitable for couples. The goals of Lookout’s shelters are to:
Provide temporary housing to individuals in their own communities
Connect people with local services
Help individuals regain stability in their lives
Extreme Weather Shelters
The Extreme Weather Response program enables communities to temporarily increase the number of emergency shelter beds during extreme conditions that threaten the safety and health of homeless individuals. Lookout increases the number of beds during the coldest and wettest weather of the year to ensure those who are at risk have a safe place to sleep. Emergency Weather Response Shelters (EWRs) are operated by Lookout on the Abbotsford, Burnaby, Langley, North Shore, Surrey and Vancouver.
NOTE: EWR shelters are open only when an alert is called within the municipality where they are located.
Extreme Weather Response shelters open under the direction of each municipality
Posters are circulated when extreme weather alerts are called
These shelters are overnight stays and strongly supported by staff and trained volunteers
Lookout statistics for the past fiscal year which runs April 1st ending March 31st include the following:
Total number of unique individuals served in all Lookout shelters
Average length of stays in a Lookout shelter
History of Lookout Emergency Shelters
Al Mitchell Shelter, Vancouver – Lookout’s original downtown shelter evolved into our first purpose-built shelter in 1981. This 46-bed shelter has with 39 units of transitional housing. The Shelter is funded primarily through Vancouver Coastal Health and supports shelter clients with money and medication management, homemaking, assessments, referrals, advocacy, liaison with health care, community court, home support, police ACT/VISU teams, Native Health, Downtown Clinic and local pharmacies.
Gateway, Surrey – Basic sheltering programs offered in an antiquated building in an attempt to meet the basic needs of the homeless community. The shelter provides dorm style bunkbeds for 32 men and 8 women. In conjunction with the Front Room Resource Centre Lookout provides meals, showers, laundry and 24/7 community space. At the Health Solutions facility next to the Gateway Shelter Lookout hosts an extreme weather shelter for up to 10 individuals. Lookout is the only shelter provider in Surrey that currently offers minimal barrier housing and health services.
Extreme Weather Shelter, Vancouver – Lookout opened the Lower Mainland’s first extreme weather shelter in conjunction with the City of Vancouver and Vancouver General Hospital. Using a floor in the old nurse’s residence of the hospital, Lookout opened a 50-bed shelter within 7 hours, just prior to a heavy snow storm. Open 24/7, we partnered with other agencies to locate people in the streets, and bring them to the shelter. Translink also played a part providing free rides to help homeless people access the shelter.
Marpole Shelter, Vancouver – A 50-bed, cold wet weather shelter, primarily funded by Federal homeless initiatives, this shelter demonstrated that the homeless population outside of the Downtown Eastside was significantly higher than anyone expected including shelter providers. Occupancy rates were close to 100% at all times, and 85% of the shelter users had never stayed in a shelter due to their location.
Yukon Shelter, Vancouver – Lookout coordinated the design and construction of this facility; a co-located with transitional housing located in Mount Pleasant. The Yukon was the result of the need established in the Marpole shelter and multiple vested stakeholder meeting led by Lookout. Stakeholders included: Vancouver Coastal Health, St. Paul’s Hospital, VGH, MSDH, mental health, police and the Housing Policy Branch in Victoria.
North Shore Shelter, North Vancouver – The North Shore Homelessness Task Force, a multiple stakeholder table that includes the City of North Vancouver, collaborated with Lookout to develop priorities and principles for the creation of a minimal-barrier shelter. Lookout coordinated the design and construction of this facility and designed programming suitable for the co -located transitional housing components.
Russell Housing Centre, New Westminster – Shelter and housing owned by BC Housing and operated by Lookout. Working alongside BC Housing, the City, BIA and Resident Association, Lookout created the shelter into the building prior to renovations. This included the temporary relocation of tenants during construction. Challenges overcome included neighbourhood concerns and hostility, tenant fears of loss of housing/eviction, massive infestation of bedbugs and high community expectations. Tenants came to the public hearing and spoke on behalf of loca ting a shelter within their building. The New Westminster BIA and the Downtown Resident Association both commended Lookout for providing an invisible presence and the tenants returned to a fully renovated facility.
The Boulevard, Surrey – 40 bed shelter closed
Riverside Abbotsford – 40 bed shelter
Guildford, Surrey – 40 bed shelter, pet friendly, includes onsite storage for valuables, harm reduction supplies and even spaces suitable for couples.
Parkway, Surrey – 40 bed shelter