Shelters over capacity

Alanna Kelly

All of the homeless shelters in Kelowna are full and over capacity, causing a critical crisis in the city.

The Kelowna Gospel Mission was expecting half a dozen people when temperatures turned blustery last week, but more than they could handle showed up on their door steps.

“We were asked if we could put a few mats down on the floor in our dining room,” said Randy Benson, executive director.

Last Thursday night, 30 people showed up.

And even more came knocking.

“The next night it was 37 and the last two nights we have been running 45 and 46 people,” he said. “There is an extreme need out there.”

The Mission's outreach worker counted 18 people sleeping on the streets Sunday night.

“Our facility is not set up to handle 120, 130 people all at once,” he said. “It is very crowded,  very challenging. It is certainly not something we can sustain in the long run,” he said.

Benson said what the City of Kelowna needs now is another location that can be used as an extreme weather shelter.

"This is a crisis situation,” he said. “I think oftentimes the homeless are unseen, unrecognized and probably forgotten, but I think this need and crisis is just as critical.”

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