Wednesday marked the third day of the new RAN shelter, The Portal, a ‘stay safe shelter’ on Yale Road East with help like on-site support services. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Temporary shelter in downtown Chilliwack galvanizing community support

It was only the third day but the shelter has been running smoothly so far say operators

Wednesday marked the third day of the new winter shelter bringing the homeless in from the cold on Yale Road East.

“It’s been very smooth,” said Bill Raddatz, executive director of Ruth and Naomi’s Mission (RAN).

“The Portal,” as they’re calling the new 24/7 shelter, will function as a daytime shelter/navigation centre, as well as a nighttime shelter.

READ MORE: Shelter set to open

That’s in addition to the other main shelters already in operation across Chilliwack.

As Raddatz headed into the building to check things out, and he said was happy to find shelter guests cleaning, putting stuff away and sweeping up.

The shelter can sleep 45, and will operate as a “navigation centre” during the day as various support agencies come by to help, such as the outreach ICM team or Sto:lo Service Agency members.

Located at 46293 Yale Rd., the shelter will be operated by the local RAN staff on-site at the shelter around-the-clock to provide support. Guests will be provided with two meals, snacks and laundry service.

RAN officials are also extremely appreciative of the “leadership and support” shown to date by Mayor Ken Popove, staff and council on this file, Raddatz added. City officials will not enforce the zoning or building code bylaws for the temporary shelter.

“It is becoming a real community effort, in terms of the service providers and partners coming together, but also some community members have been volunteering to offer support as well,” said Raddatz. “The more you have, the easier it is. We’re here to solve the problems, but sometimes it’s as challenging as a salmon swimming upstream.”

They weren’t full on the first night, and are averaging about 30 to 35 guests overnight at the new shelter, with another 20 coming indoors at the main RAN building.

The shelter will be open until the end of March.

“By that time, a separate 46-unit supportive housing project currently under construction at 45944 Yale Rd. is expected to be open. Over time, people coming into the shelter will be able to transition to new self-contained homes and benefit from additional support services,” according to an info bulletin from BC Housing and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Reps from Fraser Health and social service agencies will be on-site weekly to assess needs and connect people with housing and other services.

Community members were making preparations to paint the front window with Christmas scenes on Wednesday evening, as well as making plans to accept donations of crib boards and other items at the shelter from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 5.

“I think this is going to be a place where, instead of having a negative impact on the neighbourhood, the building will bring people together. Just wait and see. Or come and help,” Phillipson said. “It’s going to be great but we still need more spaces like this.”

The Chilliwack Citizens for Change group on Facebook is also actively supporting the shelter, and putting out the call for, and organizing the collection of donations, from the wider community.

READ MORE: Shelter funding shifted

Phillipson said she noticed that some neighbours have really shifted their attitudes about helping the homeless, compared to last year when the prevailing attitude in Chilliwack seemed to be: “Give ‘em all fentanyl.”

“I think the public’s empathy and compassion is growing for our struggling neighbours,” Phillipson said. “It seems dramatically different from last year. The scale is tilted and people realize they need somewhere to go. Unfortunately there are still many out on the streets.

In the meantime, the volunteers have compiled a list of items needed, in addition to cash donations:

• playing cards

• crib boards

• pencil crayons

• board games

• dice

The new shelter is in addition to five other shelters funded by the provincial government which are running at or near capacity on a nightly basis:

• Salvation Army – 45746 Yale Rd., Brigadier Arthur Cartmell House, permanent shelter – 11 beds

• Salvation Army – 45748 Yale Rd., House of Hope, permanent shelter – 48 beds

• RAN – 46130 Margaret Ave., Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, permanent shelter – 15 beds

• RAN – 46130 Margaret Ave., temporary shelter – 26 spaces

• Cyrus Centre – 45845 Wellington Ave., temporary shelter open – 12 spaces


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

What can $4 million get you in real estate in Chilliwack vs. other places in B.C.?

A 78-acre property with a large house – or you could get a condo in Vancouver or an estate mansion in 100 Mile House

LETTER: Public safety ‘first and foremost consideration,’ says parole board

Board responding to article about Chilliwack halfway house

Widespread concerns spur UFV to halt international enrolment growth

New target hopes to limit international students to 20% of all enrolment to give time to ‘catch up’

Lights Tour 2019 takes everyone on a sparkly ride across Chilliwack

The annual list of addresses compiled by CADREB for the 2019 Tour of Homes is almost ready

UFV & other B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Braille signs coming to TransLink bus stops in 2020

Transit authority says it’s the first to do so in Canada and the United States

Six B.C. municipalities accepted as interveners in Supreme Court of Canada carbon-pricing case

Victoria, Vancouver, Squamish, Richmond, Nelson and Rossland have intervener status

CUPE issues 72-hour strike notice for SkyTrain

Local 7000 release states ‘parties are still bargaining’, union will have job action plan by Saturday

Abbotsford man was ‘unintended victim’ of 2018 fatal shooting, police say

Jagvir Malhi, 19, was gunned down while on his way to university

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

Province wants to seize Langley property connected to drug lab

The Office of Civil Forfeiture is targeting a property on Fraser Highway

B.C. Transit finds 28 used fareboxes online, saves $300,000

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Most Read