December 28, 2015 - 4:30 PM
KELOWNA - Last week’s cold coupled with this weekend’s snow has pushed the Kelowna’s primary homeless shelter to capacity.
“We dont turn people away, we are open 24/7 and have been since the cold and snow hit last week,” Kelowna's Gospel Mission's Michael Morrison says.
Morrison says the Mission’s 82 mens' beds, 12 step up beds and 14 womens' shelter beds are full, although room will be made for mats as needed.
“We will make space one way or another. The doors are open and so far, we haven’t turned anyone away,” he adds.
It’s standard policy to throw open the doors when conditions deteriorate outside, Morrison says, not just in winter but during heat waves and smokey sky alerts such as those last summer.
Just to make sure no one gets missed, the Mission started an outreach program in the fall, where workers try to make and maintain contact with the hard-to-house homeless people who might otherwise avoid a shelter, even in foul weather.
“It’s for everyone that can’t come to the shelter, who physically can’t get here or don’t want to. It’s really all about building trust with them, building a relationship."
Morrison says the Mission has noticed an increase in homeless in the Kelowna area since last year, but especially this summer and fall.
“When Inn from the Cold opens in November, our numbers drop but this year they haven’t, they’ve stayed the same,” Morrison says.
Morrison says the Kelowna Gospel Mission Society has been asked to help a group of churches, led by Emmanuel Church, to set up an emergency mat shelter in fast-growing West Kelowna.
“There is no real shelter over there,” he says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015