Rising pressure for its services has Nanaimo Citizen Advocacy looking for the cash to help pay to provide them.
The organization, now in its 44th year of operation in Nanaimo, helps people with disability applications, general and legal advocacy, residential tenancy issues and a range of other services, through its paid staff and volunteers.
Susan Carlson, NCAA board vice-president, said the association hopes to raise $25,000 by the end of its fiscal year, March 31, to cover wages for its paid general and legal advocates and other paid staff and operational expenses.
“We have five paid advocates and a bookkeeper who keeps us on the straight and narrow,” Carlson said. “We have legal and general advocates … they get paid differently.”
The association also relies on volunteers including Carlson and Pamela Pady, president, who have managed the operation since previous executive director, Deanna Ward, left to take a position with the provincial government in early 2018.
So far in 2018 the NCAA has handled well over 16,000 contacts with its approximately 2,200 clients.
“We help people, tenants, deal with bad landlords frequently, so that they can resolve differences between tenants and landlord. That is not an unusual situation,” Pady said.
People who find themselves suddenly homeless for a range of reasons that include being evicted because of sales of residential properties are among the kinds of cases NCAA staff deal with regularly and each visit from a client needing help can take two hours or more, which amounts to a heavy workload spread between the association’s five advocates.
“With the homeless, people are coming in who have been good tenants for years and then all of a sudden – not because of their behaviour, but because the landlord sells or something,” Carson said. “Those people are coming in all the time.”
To add to the work, NCAA staff have also just started conducting workshops showing clients how to apply for disability benefits.
In January the city helped NCAA get through a tough financial stretch with a one-time $10,000 grant.
“This was the first time we approached them in any way,” said Carlson said, who estimates the association’s work saves the city hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
The association also receives funding from the province, the United Way and The Law Foundation of British Columbia.
The association needs additional volunteers to help deliver its programs and services. To learn more about Nanaimo Citizen Advocacy Association, to become a volunteer to make a donation, visit http://nanaimocaa.com/.