The B.C. government will provide approximately $1.6 million this winter to make additional shelter spaces available in about 100 communities, including Vernon, to help those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with access to a safe, warm place to stay at night.
Close to 1,200 temporary shelter spaces will be available from now until March 31, 2016, whenever a community issues an extreme weather alert. In Vernon, that is an additional 10 beds at the Gateway Support Services for Women and Men.
“Each winter, the B.C. government works with communities and volunteers around the province to make sure that extra shelter space is available,” said Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing.
“These spaces supplement permanent, year-round services and provide an extra layer of support to make sure that everyone has a warm, safe place to stay.”
Communities decide what weather conditions warrant an alert and how many spaces to activate on a given night, depending on the capacity of existing shelters and the estimated need.
These spaces supplement the more than 1,700 permanent, year-round shelter beds throughout the province. Most permanent shelters are open 24/7 and provide three meals per day.
The province also funds outreach teams to help connect people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with housing and support services such as income assistance and mental-health and addictions services. Outreach workers assisted over 7,200 people last year.