Founded in 1993, PHS Community Services Society (PHS) is a non-profit housing, health care and community development agency providing services in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. PHS develops, maintains and advocates for affordable housing for adults who have been marginalized as a result of homelessness, physical, mental health and behavioural issues, substance dependencies and more. They also provide low-barrier harm reduction, drug treatment and primary health care services.
PHS operates and manages 21 low-barrier residences and over 1,200 units of rental housing that include emergency shelters and transitional housing. In addition to providing housing, PHS offers a range of health care services that are both embedded in their housing, and available to the broader community. Their multidisciplinary team of physicians, specialists, nurses and social workers offers comprehensive primary care, mental health and addiction treatment services. They also offer monthly internal medicine, gynecology and women’s health clinics.
In an effort to foster and grow a sense of community for marginalized people, PHS aims to empower, generate trusting relationships and help them to determine their own course of recovery. They see people, not their pathology, and work hard to offer stability, compassion and love to those who need it most. PHS believes that there are solutions to homelessness and the opioid crisis, and that implementing them will require love, resiliency and – most importantly – political will.
PHS has developed a range of innovative community based programs to meet the diverse needs of the thousands of people they serve each year. Programs include needle distribution and collection, community gardens, low-barrier methadone treatment, managed alcohol programs, dental care, alternatives to traditional detox, and more.
Above all, PHS strives to be a champion for social inclusion, a leader in social innovation, and an advocate for marginalized people whose voices are rarely heard. PHS is perhaps best known for leading the advocacy effort to open North America’s first supervised injection site, Insite, in 2003. Advocacy remains a major focus for PHS today, and their work continues to yield remarkable results for the community. For example, PHS was there to fight against the closure of the low-barrier New Fountain Shelter 2011, and later this year, PHS will be operating the ‘new’ New Fountain Shelter on East Hastings that will open in 2017, thanks to the innovative planning and renewed funding of BC Housing.
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