Temporary homeless shelter funding came through this week for Chilliwack from the provincial government, but there’s no space available to open an “extreme weather” shelter for when the mercury dips below zero.
Funding was announced Wednesday by BC Housing for 26 “temporary” shelter spaces at Ruth and Naomi’s Mission for adults, and 12 temporary shelter spaces for youth at Cyrus Centre.
“It is so frustrating. We started looking (for an extreme weather shelter facility) two months ago,” RAN executive director Bill Raddatz said. “At this point we have nothing nailed down.”
People have been commenting on the large number of people huddled in doorways downtown, especially as the cold weather approaches, Raddatz said. A warming centre or overnight shelter for extreme cold weather is very much needed in Chilliwack.
“Right now our facilities are being used every night as it is, so we can’t do the extreme weather program,” said Raddatz.
That is why they are currently looking for another facility, community hall or vacant building that might be suitable.
At this point RAN offers nightly shelter on Margaret Street for homeless people by setting up cots in the dining area, but due to the ongoing high demand all year round, they converted that space to an all-season emergency shelter last year.
They typically shelter between 35 to 50 people a night at Ruth and Naomi’s, while the Salvation Army opens its doors to about 60 people a night.
“If anyone know of a church or social hall or empty building that could be used, please give us a call,” added Raddatz.
They are seeking space for a four-month period, from November to March.
BC Housing announced plans to fund 1,400 “temporary” shelter spaces and more than 750 “extreme weather” spaces for agencies and non-profits across B.C. in 2018, including Chilliwack.
“Temporary and extreme weather shelters are crucial to ensuring the health and safety of people living on the street and getting them out of the cold and wet weather,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a news release. “These shelters not only have the potential to save lives – they also assist people in accessing the support and services they need to achieve housing stability.”
“Extreme weather” shelter spaces, funded by BC housing, get opened once the temperatures dip below zero, or it rains for three days. The program, in partnership with municipalities and non-profits in about 65 communities around B.C., will be providing more than 1,400 temporary shelter spaces and over 750 extreme weather response shelter spaces.