Without a solid foundation, it’s difficult to continue building and impossible to feel safe and secure. That’s true whether you’re talking about construction – or about life itself.
Progressive Housing Society has been helping people find their own foundation – both symbolically and literally – for almost 40 years now.
The non-profit organization supports individuals in the community who are living with severe and persistent mental illness, and vulnerable and disenfranchised individuals experiencing homelessness, or those at risk of homelessness.
“We believe in a Housing First philosophy which basically says that everyone needs to be, and is entitled to housing – it is a basic need that everyone should have access to,” said Jaye Treit, the executive director of the society. “For those struggling with personal barriers or health issues, without housing first, they can’t really properly begin to address or remedy those issues.”
Once people are housed, the organization helps them with individual, client-centred support services through a variety of programs.
“We don’t exclude anyone. Access to some of our programs does require meeting some eligibility criteria, but we try to find creative solutions so that we don’t have to turn anyone away,” said Treit. “We provide housing assistance in a variety of ways through our community outreach teams and our mental health programs. We can offer rental assistance and emergency housing funds based on eligibility and availability.”
With a lack of safe and affordable housing in this city and throughout the region, the team at Progressive have their work cut out for them. But Treit says all of the staff are passionate about the work they do there because of the huge impact it has on individual lives.
“We really believe in helping people at whatever point they are in their life, and helping them navigate and encourage them in their journey. I think our staff are simply remarkable and go above and beyond all the time, every single day, advocating and supporting,” she said.
Treit says that being based in this community and working alongside other groups with parallel goals has helped them immensely.
“We couldn’t do our job without the support of other organizations who provide important services that many of our clients need that we don’t provide,” she noted. “Building relationships and fostering a community of care that has evolved and developed over the years is critical to the success of any social service program. We help and support each other because sometimes and too often the needs of one individual or family is so great that it really takes a team to make a difference.”
The society first formed in 1981 and has been growing and expanding ever since, building a reputation in BC as a leader in this field.
“Excellence for us is about not just saying what we do, but doing what we say,” she said. “We want to take on challenges when the path is not so clear, and to always focus on the difference we are making in the community. That’s what it’s all about: making an impact, saving lives, and never giving up.”
For Treit, all of that is part of making sure that each client’s needs are met, in an atmosphere of compassion and respect. “We try very hard to not just do the work that meets our mandate goals, but to go above and beyond to make someone’s life better and to give them hope.”
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