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Kelowna  

Cornerstone's gradual close

News Tuesday that Kelowna's Leon Avenue Cornerstone shelter would remain open three more months was music to the ears of residents facing an uncertain future.

Faced with the prospect of sending 80 people back on the streets en masse at the end of the month, Cornerstone was granted an extension until the end of June by BC Housing.

According to Dawn Himer, executive director of the John Howard Society which runs the shelter, this will give them a chance to find housing for some of the residents while allowing for a more gradual closure.

"Everybody out at the same time would be a little overwhelming for the residents, staff and the city," Himer told Castanet News.

"The main reason they did extend it is you can't just open up the doors and close them behind people and leave them to the streets. The Downtown Kelowna Association and the chamber both agreed on that avenue."

It was hoped some of the residents would be able to find transitional housing at other projects the John Howard Society will oversee, but those won't be available until closer to the end of the year, or early 2020.

"We are looking for alternatives."

One of those could be a smaller shelter a little further away from the downtown core.

Himer said she has also met with Journey Home to try and find solutions for some people who have tried supportive housing, but found it didn't work for them.

Since Cornerstone opened in November of 2017, Himer says about 16 people have been placed in permanent housing.

They are working on solutions for the 80 people currently registered at Cornerstone.

However, complicating matters are the few still displaced by the closing of Inn From the Cold, and the 24 people who will be looking for a place to go when a temporary cold weather shelter run by Metro Community on Ellis Street closes.

As people from Cornerstone find other housing, those beds will be removed. The space will not be filled.



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