New director to go after funding for Warm Zone
The Warm Zone has been forced to reduce its hours, and a new executive director is still looking for sources of funding to keep operating the safe house for “street-engaged” women.
The Warm Zone has been operated by the Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley (WRSFV) for three years in downtown Abbotsford, buoyed by federal funding of $93,000 per year over the life of a three-year pilot project. Many of the clients are homeless, work in the sex trade, and are drug-addicted. The Warm Zone offers a place to sleep, eat, do laundry, shower, and other basic domestic functions.
The funding ran out in March, and the lease for the building in downtown Abbotsford, near Jubilee Park, is also nearing an end.
Executive director Dorothy Henneveld is new on the job at the WRSFV, having recently come from Edmonton, where she worked for Catholic Social Services – one of the largest multi-service non-profits in North America. Henneveld said she will work hard to keep the Warm Zone.
“It’s vital. The service we give to women is outstanding – it’s extraordinary,” she said.
She is looking for $200,000 in operating funding from the provincial government, and would like the city to partner in the project by providing a facility.
However, she is watching what council does with its anti-harm-reduction bylaw, which is presently under review. The Warm Zone offers needle exchange services to clients, which contravenes the city regulations.
“The anti-harm-reduction bylaw is proving to be a bit of a barrier,” said Henneveld. “We’re explicitly breaking a bylaw.”
At the same time, she said the city appears to value the service offered by the Warm Zone.