For the first time in City of Trail history, a shelter will be open 24/7 until the end of March.
The closest year-round shelter is in Nelson, but the site is usually full and unable to accommodate those living Trail and surrounding areas, says Sheila Adcock from Bay Avenue’s Career Development Services (CDS).
What began as a warm bed in the Trail Salvation Army church seven years ago, is now a six-bed service funded by the province and operated by Trail Association for Community Living.
CDS, governed by association directors, has taken on daily management for several years. The shelter now runs from a newly renovated space in the Community Inclusion Centre on Bay Avenue.
Until this year, the shelter was only open at night.
“It was not the best solution having the shelter guests having to leave by 8 a.m.,” Adcock to the Trail Times. “And wander the streets trying to find a warm/safe place to be until 9 p.m. at night when they were able to return to the shelter,” she added.
“This way, the day time shelter workers can assist with the process of setting up supports, finding housing and connecting with resources locally, in order to be successful in obtaining permanent housing quickly.”
Funding for full hours of operation is from a broader BC Housing program.
“In previous years, the shelter was funded through the Extreme Weather Response,” said Adcock. “But this year it is designated as a winter shelter operating 24 hours per day.”
Individuals staying at the shelter have a 30-day limit and must be actively looking for housing and accessing local resources.
As in past years, CDS staff will assist shelter guests through the Getting to Home program – a local initiative that helps homeless men, women and families from Rossland to Fruitvale as well as Areas A and B, find a more permanent housing solution.
The program has had good success in finding housing for shelter patrons in the past, but this year the transition may not be as fluid.
Adcock works with the area’s most vulnerable on a daily basis in her position as CDS’ program coordinator. CDS runs Getting to Home, a social enterprise that helps individuals who are desperate to find a place in the community but are unable to create stability due to unstable housing.
Additionally, CDS provides management services for absentee landlords and develops units of safe housing at rental rates that fall within the shelter allowance limits for employment and disability assistance recipients.
“The need is huge right now because of the fact that rental stock is really low,” Adcock explained. “Rentals in Castlegar and Nelson are zero, so we are getting a lot of influx.”
With so few places available for rent, anyone in need of housing is at the mercy of prospective landlords.
“They are looking to raise the rents, for example, a single occupancy unit can be $750 a month,” she said.
“And our guys are on disability or low income, they only get $1,000 a month and can’t afford that kind of thing, plus utilities.”
She says older rental stock is being sold off, often to first time property owners.
“That’s all great, but the rental stock is really shrinking,” Adcock said.
“We’ve got a long list of people looking for rentals, so we are trying to build and explore options in the community but a lot of the landlords are saying they can get more (elsewhere).”
Now called La Nina Winter Shelter, the site is need of slippers, socks, pyjama pants and winter boots.
Monetary donations are always welcome, and because CDS/TACL is a non profit charitable organization, tax receipts can be issued.