Marpole Place Neighbourhood House is hosting a "connect event" to provide dinner, haircuts and personal care kits to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.
The Oct. 12 event is one of several initiatives organized across the city to mark Homelessness Action Week, which ends Saturday.
The Marpole Oakridge Area Council Society operates the neighbourhood house and landed a city grant worth just under $3,000 to stage Marpole Homeless Connect. The event takes place on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at 1305 West 70th Ave. It's being put on in collaboration with the Marpole BIA, Coast Mountain Bus Company and Marpole-Kerrisdale-Shaughnessy community policing.
Last spring, the city approved $30,000 worth of grants for initiatives by 11 organizations during Homelessness Action Week. Mayor Gregor Robertson's stated goal is to end street homelessness by 2015.
Cindy McMillan, coordinator of Marpole Place Neighbourhood House, said haircuts will be offered along with a hot meal and a personal care kit containing items such as soap, a toothbrush and socks.
"This will be the first time we're organizing this event, although last year we did become a designated extreme weather shelter for when the weather gets bad," McMillan said.
She noted the homelessness problem in Marpole is more hidden than in other neighbourhoods such as the Downtown Eastside.
"You will see a couple [of homeless people] out on Granville, but many of them are down by the river," she said.
"Marpole is still one of the areas that has quite a bit of cheaper housing, but that's becoming less and less of the case now."
Those who attend the connect event will get a voucher for a low-cost meal, as well as a laminated, pocket-size resource guide listing useful services such as where they can take a shower, get a meal or find mental health help.
The guide was developed through the collaboration of several neighbourhood organizations, including St. Faith's Anglican Church, which also landed a city grant for Homelessness Action Week. The church is hosting an afternoon event called Take a Bite out of Winter from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct 13.
The homeless and those at risk of homelessness will be given a chili and baked potato lunch and they can pick up winter clothing at no charge such as coats, blankets, sleeping bags, mittens, scarves, socks, underwear and boots. They'll also get the resource guide.
St. Faith's, located at 7284 Cypress St. at West 57th Ave., edges both Marpole and Kerrisdale, according to Rev. Christine Wilson, who represents the church on the Marpole Place Neighbourhood House homelessness committee that meets monthly.
"In the Kerrisdale area we have fewer people sleeping rough, but we do have people who are precariously housed and sometimes it's all they can do to maybe pay rent and hydro and there's not a lot left over," she said. "So the [Take a Bite out of Winter] event is for people who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless or anybody in need in the community."
Wilson cited a two-week study conducted by the Motivation Power and Achievement Society last year entitled the South Vancouver Homelessness Project, which reported 55 homeless people in Marpole-a number higher than the figure from the Metro Vancouver annual homeless count, which recorded five homeless people in Marpole.
"The city wisely recognizes that [the homeless count] is an undercount because it is a snapshot of a 24-hour period of time," Wilson explained. "Definitely the need is there. It's an understated need and a need that's not really understood in the Marpole area."