Trail Times file photo

Full house expected at Trail shelter this winter

Extreme weather response shelters are funded by the province

Frontline workers are expecting a full house at the downtown Trail shelter this winter.

“Based on the number of queries about the shelter opening and availability of beds, we anticipate we will be full nightly and faced with the unpleasant task of sending some individuals away if we are at full capacity,” says program manager Sheila Adcock

“We will be looking at other shelters around the area to see if we can assist some individuals to access other resources.”

With funding from the province, up to $75,000 annually depending upon usage, the six-bed shelter provides a warm meal, hot shower, and laundry amenities.

The Bay Avenue locale opened Friday night, and will remain open 12 hours each day, or from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., until the end of March.

Last season, four to six beds were occupied each night on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Those accessing the site were mostly individuals struggling to find affordable housing in the area. Furthermore, statistics from past years also reveal it’s typically close to a 50/50 split between male and female patrons.

“Winter shelters are only one way to support individuals that struggle with housing, there are homelessness issues across the province and anyone interested can learn how they can become involved in developing solutions to the housing crisis in our community,” Adcock says.

“We are really happy with the positive conversations we are having in the community with individuals asking how they can help and become involved in working on homeless issues in our area.”

The shelter has a mandate to help their patrons beyond the provision of a warm bed and light meal. The person is connected with a housing facilitator from the Getting To Home program to identify any emergent issues and to develop a plan to get them housed as quickly as possible.

Finding longer term options is particularly challenging, however.

“It is becoming harder for individuals living well below the poverty line, and struggling with complex issues, to obtain housing in the very competitive housing market right now,” Adcock stressed.

“This is due to the decrease in affordable housing options in the Trail community.”

The shelter is inside the Community Inclusion Centre, though nightly access is through the back door in the alley.

Adcock says pyjama pants, T-shirts, and sweat pants are needed, as well as slippers, socks, warm coats and mitts. Anyone wanting to contribute to the cause is encouraged to call Career Development Services at 250.364.1104.

This season, the province will open almost 1,355 temporary shelter spaces and over 820 extreme weather response shelter spaces.

These emergency shelters, available since Nov. 1 and until March 31, 2020, supplement the more than 2,000 permanent, year-round emergency shelter spaces.

Individual communities establish a plan of the weather conditions that warrant an extreme weather alert and determine the number of spaces to activate on a given night, depending on the capacity of existing shelters and the estimated need.

As well, emergency shelter programs work with communities and non-profits throughout B.C. to provide temporary but immediate places to stay for anyone who is experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

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