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Kelowna  

Shelter turning people away

A Kelowna cold weather homeless shelter has been at capacity every night since it opened for the season at the start of November.

Inn from the Cold is a low-barrier shelter that aims to accept people who have no other options, but executive director Jan Schultz says they have been forced to turn people away nightly.

“The population has increased absolutely, considerably. Last year we increased the bed capacity to 40, but that's just too much for the space, staff and volunteers,” she said noting they are capping capacity this year at 35.

The shelter is also on the front lines of the opioid overdose crisis. In the last two weeks, they have dealt with eight incidents and have recently received approval from Interior Health to hand out and train users with naloxone kits.

Schultz says they have already handed out 25, which has gone a long ways and taken some of the load off of the volunteers who were rushing out the door to administer the OD antidote.

As the homeless population in Kelowna continues to grow each year, Schultz would like to see the whole community come together to work on an actual solution, “a shelter is a Band-Aid.”

“One of the most heartbreaking things I find, over and over again we have people come up and say ‘I want to go to detox, but what is the point.’

“And they are right because they go to detox they get clean, and there is not the rehab, because there is not enough spaces. Then they are back in the exact same environment that got them there in the first place.”

The shelter operates with volunteers and donations from the public, with just 16 per cent of funding coming from government.

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