The Portal operated by Ruth Naomi’s Mission with BC Housing funding has been full most nights since the 2020 cold snap hit. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Progress file)

Shelter policy in Chilliwack is to not turn anyone away

Emergency shelter operators have been coping relatively well since the cold snap hit Chilliwack

Shelter facilities in Chilliwack are coping relatively well with the bitter cold this week.

“For us in Chilliwack, this is the best year yet for preparedness,” said Bill Raddatz, executive director of Ruth & Naomi’s Mission (RAN).

The Portal can sleep 48 people during normal weather, and has taken in another 20 since the deep freeze arrived, so it is handling the overflow demand from the RAN facility, Pathways.

“It is a bit crowded,” Raddatz said, but folks are staying warm and dry at the facility on Yale Road.

The current policy at Chilliwack shelters is to not turn anyone away who needs to come in from the cold.

“And we don’t plan to. We’ll make them fit. The bottom line is that anyone staying in the streets is doing so by their choice,” Raddatz said.

The RAN shelter known as Pathways has been full every night, averaging about 26 people.

At the Salvation Army Care & Share Centre it’s the same story – no one is being turned away. There are nine women’s shelter beds available, while the 60-bed men’s shelter has been running to capacity.

Unlike in previous years, there were no provincially funded “extreme weather” shelter beds opened this winter in Chilliwack when temperatures dipped into the sub-zero range. Local officials are still seeking a suitable location in a church hall or other vacant spaces.

The two 46-unit supportive housing facilities opened last year by RainCity Housing welcomed 92 people into the modular housing, and out of the cold. That new housing has made a noticeable difference on the streets, Raddatz said.

There are some emergency shelter spaces open for women through Ann Davis Transition Society.

READ MORE: The Portal opened as an interim fix

READ MORE: No extreme weather shelter facilities found

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