Someone is waiting to come inside almost every night the downtown Trail shelter opens its door.
That’s been the case no matter the winter conditions, ever since La Nina Extreme Weather Shelter began operating as a short term refuge seven years ago.
With such a cold season this year, however, the shelter coordinator says many are choosing other options instead of waiting outside in freezing temperatures until the site opens at 9 p.m.
“The numbers have been steady but there have been a number of individuals that have chosen to find places in the community to couch surf as opposed to staying at the shelter,” says Sheila Adcock, program coordinator with Career Development Services (CDS). “As it has been too cold to try to find somewhere else to go when it is closed from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.”
The Bay Avenue shelter opened in early November and housed individuals 15 nights that month. When the weather turned much colder in December, patrons used the facility 20 of the 31 nights.
As of Sunday, the shelter had opened four of eight nights in January.
The reason individuals require the service vary, but almost all the guests have been of one gender this season – 39 males and two women to date.
“There have been a couple that have been transient and passing through,” Adcock clarified. “Some sent over from the Nelson shelter as they had stayed the max 30 days so were asked to leave,” she added. “And the rest are individuals with complex needs that struggle to maintain housing and end up evicted and unable to secure affordable housing.”
The Trail Times asked Adcock if she had made any observations of those seeking help this winter.
“With the decrease in availability of housing in Castlegar and Nelson, we are getting an influx of individuals from those communities looking for housing options,” she replied.
La Nina is currently in high need of socks, gloves and hats.
Anyone wishing to contribute is encouraged to drop by the CDS Thrift Store at 1565 Bay Ave.
“Temporary” is the key mandate for La Nina Extreme Weather Shelter, which first opened as a temporary refuge in the basement of the Salvation Army Church back in 2010.
For the last six years, the November-to-March service has operated under CDS auspices, an organization that offers much more than a night of warmth.
“Anyone that finds themselves homeless and looking for housing in Trail is referred to the Getting to Home Housing Facilitator,” Adcock said. “To get some help with obtaining housing and getting the necessary items needed to set up a home.”