Pubdate: Thu, 28 Apr 2016
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 The Georgia Straight
Author: Travis Lupick


Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has initiated a shakeup among community
services in the Downtown Eastside.

The regional health-care provider has eliminated funding for the Drug
User Resource Centre (DURC), which has operated on East Cordova Street
across from Oppenheimer Park since 2003.

That building, a community centre run by the Portland Hotel Society,
has served as a home base for some controversial harm-reduction
programs. Those include an alcohol-maintenance program where
alcoholics brew their own beer, as well as support groups for crack
and meth users. By cutting the DURC'S funding, VCH will save $650,000
a year.

In turn, VCH has awarded a contract worth $1 million annually to
Lookout Emergency Aid Society for a "new mental health and substance
use drop-in centre". That's actually for an expansion of services
offered at 528 Powell Street, where Lookout has had a program called
the Livingroom since 1993. The new facility will run with expanded
hours, 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

VCH is also planning to open an addictions clinic with a drop-in
component at a site farther east on Powell Street. A spokesperson said
it was too early to provide details about that facility. The changes
are part of Vancouver Coastal Health's "Second Generation" strategy
for the Downtown Eastside.

In a telephone interview, Lookout's executive director, Shayne
Williams, said 528 Powell will operate with the Second Generation
strategy's emphasis on clinical services but will remain low-barrier
and operate with peer involvement.

"You're going to see the same types of services offered [by the DURC]
with a better focus on connection to care for specialized populations
like mental health and addictions recovery," Williams told the Straight.

Some DURC harm-reduction programs will be discontinued, Williams
acknowledged. But laundry, showers, and other hygiene services will be
expanded. Williams also said it's his hope that movie screenings and a
karaoke night will transfer over.

"We know that we're going to have to be versatile, and we will work
collaboratively with the community," Williams said. 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D