The Portal, the temporary winter shelter, at Yale and Williams has been operated by RAN with BC Housing funding. It opened in early December and has been full most nights. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

The Portal, the temporary winter shelter, at Yale and Williams has been operated by RAN with BC Housing funding. It opened in early December and has been full most nights. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Rough winter for those trying to survive on Chilliwack streets

Mayor Popove says everything Chilliwack has done is ‘a work in progress’ with more on the way

It’s been rough for those sleeping on the streets of Chilliwack — even during a mild winter.

Many of the 30 to 35 guests bedding down nightly at The Portal shelter are patiently waiting for the modular supportive housing to open in April, while others refuse to stay in emergency shelters.

“It’s a tough situation,” said Mayor Ken Popove. “We’re doing what we can, and there are more positive things coming.”

READ MORE: Portal opened in early December

Chilliwack has a total of about 139 adult shelter spaces available at this point for anyone seeking a bed for the night, and they are not full every night.

For example, The Portal, the 24/7 winter shelter, at Yale and Williams, opened with 45 spaces, with temporary BC Housing funding in early December.

It has been full most nights since it opened on Dec. 3.

“So far we’re calling it a success,” reported Bill Raddatz, executive director of Ruth & Naomi’s Mission, which operates the Portal.

They view the shelter as a “navigational pivot point” to help people permanently leave the life on the streets.

READ MORE: Many projects on the way

Some are starting to “take pride in their surroundings,” Raddatz said, and guests have been helping with street cleanups.

“It’s been running smoother than anticipated as some guests have realized they could stay for the full four months while waiting to transition to other housing alternatives,” he said.

But the existing shelter at RAN, which had been averaging 30 to 35 guests per night, is now only seeing about 15 to 20 people per night.

City crews clean up garbage most weekday mornings, while Fraser Health outreach workers and ICM team members engage regularly with shelter guests.

The RAN Family Centre as well as the Yale Road modular supportive housing project should be open and ready to intake residential tenants by April.

The area around the post office downtown has remained occupied by about 20 people. Most have complex, multi-barrier situations that have brought them to homelessless and substance use.

“Unfortunately that is their choice,” Raddatz said about those for whom the shelter rules or other restrictions are unacceptable. “It’s a hard life.”

Chilliwack officials have been working closely with various organizations and provincial agencies to address the desperate situation of those with addiction and mental health issues living rough. They have also been applying for funding and partnerships from senior levels of government to increase housing and shelter beds, and more is on the way in the next six months.

“The biggest thing we are looking to in 2019 is for the modular supportive housing to open. We expect that to be a big help,” Popove said. There are already 30 names on the intake list for the 45 units.

Gaining the infrastructure capacity to be able to help everyone who needs it “does not happen overnight,” the mayor underlined.

The homeless population exploded in the last few years, faster than all levels of government could address it, but they have been taking on the challenge — head on.

“It’s all been a work in progress,” Popove said.


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chris Squires of The Wack Window Cleaning Company has created the #100housechallenge where he’ll be cleaning the exterior windows of 100 homes for free when an interior window cleaning service is purchased and a food item is donated to Wilma’s Transition Society. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack window cleaner ready to donate to Wilma’s through #100housechallenge campaign

Chris Squires enjoys providing service, wants to express it via donations, giving back to community

A cyclist was struck at the intersection of Prest and Bailey roads in Chilliwack on Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Cyclist struck by SUV in Chilliwack

Incident happened at Prest and Bailey roads around 2:45 p.m. Saturday

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired Mission teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Alan Sweet taught in school district for 10 years, investigators seeking further witnesses

B.C. RCMP Lower Mainland District officer, Asst. Commissioner Stephen Thatcher presents RCMP blankets to (from left) Chief James Hobart, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Derek Epp and Chief Mark Point. (RCMP)
Historic agreement between Fraser Valley FN communities, RCMP to expand Indigenous role in policing

Community Safety Agreement builds relationship of ‘trust, communication and prevention,’ says Chief

Canadian Reformed Church in Chilliwack. (GoogleMaps)
OPINION: Churches that defy the law and public health orders are in the extreme minority

The nature of news coverage means that aberrations from the norm are what make the headlines

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read