Tuesday’s snow flurry is a reminder of the fast-approaching winter months, when those experiencing poverty or homelessness are most in need.
In a year in which the challenges of winter have been compounded by COVID-19, Vernon’s Turning Points Collaborative Society (TPCS) says it’s prepared to meet a greater demand for its services.
“We know that in the coming days, weeks and months ahead, more community members experiencing poverty and homelessness, or facing barriers to stable housing, will be seeking access to Turning Points programs and services, including a safe, warm place to shelter,” the non-profit society said in a press release Tuesday.
TPCS outreach staff have been working to establish sites that can be used for temporary accommodations in the event of an emergency.
“Thanks to this preemptive work, we have been able to secure the necessary accommodations to meet the potential increased demand for shelter in our community during the winter months ahead,” TPCS said.
Not all people experiencing homelessness will wish to move into these accommodations. But thanks to recent donations, TPCS says it has the means to provide for those who do not wish to move inside during the cold. Support for these people could come in the form of warm clothing, blankets, sleeping bags or essentials like personal hygiene items.
“With the likelihood of a long, cold winter ahead, our preference would be to create enough space in this community so that every individual experiencing homelessness would have a safe, stable place to call home,” said TPCS Executive Director Randene Wejr.
“While this is our main goal, in the lead up to this happening, we will do everything we can to make sure those who need help have access to our services and programs.”
The society’s temporary winter shelter program typically operates between Nov. 1 and March 31. The service is activated when the Gateway and Our Place shelters fill up during the winter. With funding from BC Housing, the program has a capacity for up to 20 additional shelter spaces.