Shelter operating within capacity as temperatures plummet

Nobody being turned away

With temperatures dropping close to -20 Celsius overnight, concerns have turned to Penticton’s homeless.

At Compass Court, the city’s only extreme weather shelter, operators say they have had enough capacity so far to avoid turning anyone away. 

The facility operates 30 beds year-round, bumping up to 50 in the winter months, but can take more if need be.

“No one is being turned away right now,” said BC Housing spokesperson Laura Mathews. “The operator is not operating above their fire capacity, which is 74 people, and they haven’t had 74 people in an evening so they haven’t had to turn anyone away yet.”

Compass Court is operated by Penticton and District Society for Community Living. 

B.C. Housing says it is studying the need for additional shelter space in Penticton. For the homeless that opt to stay out on the streets, be it for safety or issues with other shelter residents, local nonprofits are also trying to help.

“The community is really rallying together,” said South Okanagan Women in Need Society executive director Debbie Scarborough.

She said they are in talks with a pair of local churches that may open as 24/7 warming centres.

“With dropping temperatures, there is a high risk of death from exposure,” Scarborough said.

The SOWINS contact centre, which is women only, has extended its hours this week and will be open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. as a warming centre.

The Keep the Cold Off Penticton Foundation is a volunteer group that connects with homeless residents and keeps them warm with clothing and warm soup/drinks.

Donations for the group can be dropped off at the Penticton Legion between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Desmios Escape Rooms during business hours. A list of accepted items is here.

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