Shelters in Kelowna at full capacity as temperatures start to fall

Shelter shortage looms

Despite efforts to provide emergency housing to those on the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic, there remains a shortage of shelter spaces in Kelowna as we head into fall. 

The Journey Home Society said Thursday there are currently four shelters consisting of 138 beds operating in Kelowna. While the Fuller Avenue shelter is slated to close at the end of the month, the 15 beds there will be transferred to the Cornerstone shelter.

But regardless of the warmer weather that is friendly to camping, all of Kelowna’s shelters are currently at or near capacity on a nightly basis. 

In an effort to plan for a surge in shelter demand when temperatures drop, the Journey Home Society says they are working ahead on temporary winter shelters.

“While gains have been made in introducing new housing units in Kelowna, homelessness is complex, dynamic, and is an ever-changing landscape,” said Stephanie Ball, executive director.  

“With need still greater than the number of shelter space available along with the reduction of space in existing shelters to accommodate physical distancing requirements, we anticipate that additional shelter spaces will be needed this winter and have been working with BC Housing and the City for several months to develop an Emergency Winter Shelter Plan.”

The plan will see winter shelters open at locations still to be determined. The shelters will provide full-time on-site support staff and access to services like laundry facilities, showers and connections to health services.

“Last year’s outpouring of compassion resulted in donations and community volunteers that supported service providers and ensured people had an indoor shelter to go to,” said Ball. “Supporting people experiencing homelessness in our community by contributing to our local non-profit agencies or giving whatever way they can makes such a difference in reducing stigma and promoting acceptance. Even the smallest things like a smile, voicing care and compassion, help.”

The group says details on winter shelter locations will be shared as they are confirmed. 

The Central Okanagan Journey Home Society was incorporated in late 2018 to assume the role of a backbone organization to address homelessness in Kelowna by working with partners like BC Housing, Interior Health and shelter and housing operators.

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