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New Downtown Eastside building offering shelter, housing, meals, recovery, and education officially opens

Vancouver, BC—Monday, April 18, marks the official opening of Union Gospel Mission (UGM)’s $29 million, 70,000 square-foot, multipurpose facility equipped to provide a continuum of care for those entrenched in homelessness, addiction, and poverty on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Located at East Hastings and Princess, this new shelter and supportive housing development is the largest expansion in UGM history.

Provincial and municipal governments, community partners, and donors will join to celebrate the opening of this facility which will provide 72 shelter beds, 37 affordable housing units, extended meal capacity and a live-in drug and alcohol recovery program that can now accommodate nearly twice as many participants. In total, UGM will now be able to offer 183 beds to those on the DTES—100 more than the previous facility. Additionally, UGM will expand its education and employment training which includes an updated and expanded computer lab, additional classrooms and a resource centre.

An already noticeable improvement afforded by this building is the expanded drop-in which is now open eleven hours a day, instead of two.

“We just moved the drop-in portion of UGM’s services to the new building, and already the results have been amazing,” says Bill Mollard, UGM President.  “The atmosphere is spacious, peaceful and dignified, and it’s no surprise that our guests themselves seem calmer and more positive. Many of them have just been so grateful for this space—their space.”

In honour of those who were significant building contributors, and as a demonstration of their love and concern for those in our community, a one-of-a-kind mural will be unveiled, the materials for which were all selected with the DTES in mind. The instillation is built solely from recycled glass and steel, as well as reclaimed pinebeetle wood.  It was purchased from and installed exclusively by DTES merchants.

“I’ve always been amazed at the work that went on in the Cordova building,” says Carl Martin, a 2010 graduate of UGM’s Alcohol and Drug Recovery Program, “but space at the Mission has always been a challenge. With the new building, the programs can expand, which will not only change lives, it will save them.  It took me 10 years of coming to UGM, totally entrenched in my addiction before I could consider getting out. But the second I was ready, UGM was there for me.  I don’t want one more person out on the streets to miss that chance.” Carl now works at UGM as a material handler, but hopes to soon be employed as a member of the UGM outreach team.

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 9 locations in
Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. UGM is a proud member of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. To find out more, visit www.ugm.ca.

13/04/2011

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