Lookout Celebrates the Opening of First Place

It is Homelessness Action Week in Vancouver.  Fittingly, today, Lookout Emergency Aid Society offically opened their new project at the corner of First Avenue and Main Street.  First Place offers 129 units of safe and secure housing, as well as support services, to adult residents with a history of homelessness.

Lookout's Executive Director, Karen O'Shannacery (described by Board Chair Jonathan Meadows as "our almost superhuman dynamo") welcomed the assembled crowd and explained that the project was given the name First Place because, for the majority of residents, "this is the first place they've had to call home".

Meadows, in his address, said First Place aims to "get people off the streets and keep them off the streets".  Staff are on-site 24/7 to support and assist residents to strengthen or develop living skills that will help them move towards even greater independence and a more stable and healthy lifestyle.  On-site programs include roof-top gardening, walking club, health clinics and social activities such as movie nights and coffee hours.

Ian, a new resident, also addressed the crowd.  He had been present at the groundbreaking ceremony for the project, and spoke at that time of his desire to move in once First Place was complete.  Ian described spending the last 8 years homeless, incuding several years living in Stanley Park, and in substandard housing, including in an SRO unit "just bigger than a jail cell".  He expressed gratitute to Lookout for providing "someone to listen and giving me a safe place to be".

First Place was built to achieve LEED Gold certification, developed and constructed to reduce its environmental impact.

Terra has been working with Lookout for nearly 2 decades, providing development management services to successfully complete a number of shelter and permanent housing projects.  At the opening, Ms. O'Shannacery praised the Terra team for "providing leadership and guidance".