A homeless camp on the banks of the Chilliwack River near the Vedder Bridge just before it was dismantled in early December. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress file)

Chilliwack gets new winter shelter funding

The change means Chilliwack agencies can open winter shelter beds nightly regardless of weather

It’s a gift to Chilliwack the week before Christmas.

The “extreme weather” shelter program in Chilliwack is shutting down, and instead “winter shelter” beds will be opening nightly at Ruth and Naomi’s Mission (RAN), Salvation Army, and Cyrus Centre.

“We’ve obtained permission to provide winter sheltering as of this week from BC Housing,” said Bill Raddatz, RAN executive director.

It’s the first time Chilliwack has obtained this type of winter shelter funding, which supplements the regular shelter spaces.

People hunkering down in “every cove” and hidey-hole in downtown Chilliwack may now come inside, he said, even if it’s five degrees and raining.

The difference is that guidelines for “extreme weather emergency shelter” dictated that they may only open beds when the temperature dips below zero degrees and a weather alert is issued.

But with “winter shelter” the beds will be open every night until March, regardless of how cold it is.

“So rather than only having sporadic openings, it will be every day,” said Raddatz.

There will be 12 winter shelter beds for youth under 24 at Cyrus Centre on Wellington Avenue, five at the Salvation Army on Yale Road, and 26 winter shelter spaces at RAN on Margaret Avenue, with options for 14 more cots.

“The current crisis is a result of several Chilliwack homeless camps being dismantled and removed, at the worst time of the year weather-wise, without any solutions or options being put in their place.

READ MORE: Camp goes down

“It’s created what I call a whack-a-mole situation, because they close a camp down somewhere, only to have everyone show up somewhere else,” said Raddatz.

But somehow, despite the huge effort to help the neediest of Chilliwack, donations are way down, at RAN, as well as Cyrus Centre and Sally Ann.

So any help by financial donors will be appreciated, he said.

“For all of us, Christmas is usually the biggest time of giving. So when our donations are down, we know we’ll be in for a tough year ahead.”

He drove around town recently, checking out where the homeless folks were at.

“They are in every cove of the downtown, and business people are complaining about it,” Raddatz said. “So I was thinking about how we could rectify the situation, or become part of the solution. Then we had the discussion about winter sheltering.”

All three local agencies were on the same page about it, and took the idea to BC Housing officials.

They looked at all the options.

“They are aware of the Chilliwack situation,” said Raddatz. “They know the need is great.”

READ MORE: Homeless numbers spike


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. reservists gather for military communications training in Chilliwack

Canadian Army’s communication skills are used in battle as well as domestic emergencies

VIDEO: ‘Heroes’ rescue teenager trapped in vehicle in water-filled ditch in Chilliwack

Two men sprang into action, holding 17-year-old’s head out of water as they pried open door

Sarah Wark rallies to beat Prince Edward Island at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Wark wasn’t at the top of her game, but her team did enough to improve to 6-3 overall.

GW Graham junior boys play underdog role at basketball provincials

One of two at-large seeds in the 32 team field, the Grizzlies face a tough opponent out of the gate.

Unfinished business for GW Graham basketball Grizzlies at AA provincials

GWG’s senior girls squad advanced to the final before losing in 2018 and look to win it all in 2019.

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Two boys saved after falling through ice in Coquitlam

RCMP say a Good Samaritan pulled the kids to safety

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

Most Read