This year we were able to offer 5 new programs, bringing us to 25 programs & services delivered across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. In 2018-19, our programs and services saw 14 per cent increase in growth.
Through our long history of service delivery across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, we have developed an expertise in supporting people with complex needs facing multiple barriers including those who may be involved in the criminal justice system, experiencing homelessness, employment barriers, problematic substance use or mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, or spectrum disorders. Through our effective and sustainable programs and services, we provide the tools and supports necessary for vulnerable people to be empowered to achieve their self-identified needs and goals and value their positive contributions to society. In the last year, we have continued to demonstrate that expertise by not only building on our existing programs and services but also creating new ones, ultimately allowing us to support more people in diverse ways.
Throughout the continuum of programs and services delivered over the past year across the organization, the greatest challenge faced by many of the people we serve has been access to long-term, safe, and affordable housing that meets their needs. There are numerous barriers to safe and affordable housing, such as poverty, intergenerational trauma, experience with the criminal justice system, problematic drug use and addiction, mental health challenges, disabilities, and a lack of access to sufficient health care and other community-based services. Recognizing that homelessness needs to be conceptualized as a cycle requiring on-going support, rather than as a transitional stage to be managed using short-term solutions, we continue to offer wraparound supports that, together with our housing initiatives, tackle the root causes of homelessness and support people to achieve greater independence.
We are determined to support people find long-term, safe, and affordable housing that meets their needs. Despite the growing challenges faced by people across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley in securing housing, we aren’t ones to shy away from tough challenges. Through innovative strategies across a growing number of our programs, we continue to engage and work closely with housing providers, in addition to assessing real estate opportunities, in order to serve our communities.
Maintaining meaningful employment not only provides us with the financial means to sustain our livelihoods, but also provides us all with an opportunity to be productive, contributing members of our communities. Employment provides a strong sense of social value, enables us to develop networks of support and belonging, and builds on our knowledge and self-esteem. Employment is also a powerful protective factor against criminal behavior. Providing people facing complex barriers with the training, supports, and opportunities necessary for them to access and maintain meaningful employment that meets their own interests is one of the most fundamental ways that we can contribute to a safe, healthy, and inclusive community for all.
We are excited about the expansion of, and success experienced within, our employment programs this year, here are two programs in particular …