Whether there’s rain, snow or a clear night in Trail, usually two people seek cover from winter elements in La Nina Extreme Weather Emergency Shelter.
Often, it’s two middle-aged males needing a warm place to rest in the temporary local shelter that opens Nov 1. and shuts down by March 31.
Those statistics are on average, according to Career Development Services (CDS), the Trail organization that mans the six-bed shelter from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven nights per week.
The service, funded through BC Housing, is ready to open for a fifth season – but this year the shelter will move from the Trail United Church to a new location.
CDS is finishing renovations in its Community Inclusion Centre (CIC) on Bay Avenue, and will host the shelter from the facility this year, confirmed Sheila Adcock, CDS’ program coordinator.
She said the shelter will maintain six beds, however if no one presents by 1 a.m., the two staff members will lock up for the night, to help stretch the limited funding available.
“It does not make sense to have two staff sitting at the shelter with no one accessing the services,” Adcock explained. “Once again, the expectation is that all individuals that present at the shelter will be referred to the Getting to Home program,” she added. “If they are planning on staying in the community and are truly homeless, in order to work towards securing housing.”
Funding allocations are dependent upon factors such as shelter use, staffing, and food costs for an evening snack and light breakfast. Those statistics must be recorded and submitted to BC Housing every time the service is accessed.
CDS received funding for up to $36,700 last year, with the “up to” dependent upon La Nina’s nightly bill, based on how many people showed up at the shelter.
This season the organization has been approved for almost $50,000, Adcock said, noting a portion of the funds will be used for staffing.
Previous years, shelter employees were paid minimum wage, or $10.25 an hour.
“The increase is due to me negotiating a wage increase for shelter workers,” she said. “From minimum wage to $14 per hour as it is more in line with the expectation of skill set in supporting a very vulnerable population.”
The new location also has CDS paying a small rental fee for use of the space and its laundry, cleaning and kitchen areas.
BC Housing doesn’t cover capital expenses, leaving communities responsible to fundraise for shelter costs such as renovations, mats, blankets and other incidentals.
The Trail shelter is asking for donations of warm winter coats, gloves, mitts and socks.
Anyone wishing to contribute is encouraged to drop by the CDS Thrift Store at 1565 Bay Ave.
The demographic using La Nina evolves from the homeless to women seeking shelter from domestic situations, people stranded in town for a number of reasons, or those travelling through the area for medical appointments or court appearances and no transportation back home.
The short term goal is to provide secure and appropriate sleeping accommodations during extreme weather, thereby reducing health and safety risks to all adults (aged 19 or older) and families.
Shelter services are strictly temporary in Trail, because the long term objective is for CDS outreach workers to secure housing for those already living or planning to live in the city, through the Getting to Home program.