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Another homeless drop in centre to close in Kamloops

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The Mustard Seed will be closing its drop-in facility this summer, just months after a similar service in North Kamloops shuts its doors.

The volunteer-run program gives people on the streets a place to stop for meals and escape the weather throughout the day, but it will be restricted to Mustard Seed clients by the end of July.

Just weeks after news broke that The Loop would be soon closing its doors, non-profits across the city are going to Mustard Seed will do the same. There is no word on how any of its other services will be affected or what led to the closure.

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The Mustard Seed found people using the "dayroom services" are often housed elsewhere, either at shelters or other affordable housing, or they are "serviced by partner agencies."

"The chronically unhoused or 'street entrenched' is not the majority of individuals represented in our dayroom demographic," an emailed statement reads. 

Only people already using Mustard Seed services will be in the dayroom area as of July 31, like the shelter or the men's drug recovery program.

The Mustard Seed's "primary vision" of lifting people out of poverty and homelessness is "increasingly being compromised" at the West Victoria Street facility, the statement reads. People in recovery are often exposed to "triggers," while overdoses and safety for women in the Harbour House shelter is compromised. The non-profit also says it doesn't have the budget to keep up with the demand.

The closure doesn't only affect people using the Mustard Seed's services, but also other non-profits.

"We thought it was bad before and here we are now," ASK Wellness CEO Bob Hughes said.

Day spaces don't get funding from BC Housing like shelters do, he said. Instead, they get funding through grant program and they're often run by volunteers.

The service becomes a "hot potato," and it's not clear anyone will pick it up.

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"The reality of this is facing many organizations. Everybody's trying to come together to find the right model that supports people but also doesn't compromise businesses," Hughes said.

Another day space on Tranquille Road at The Loop is also expected to shut down soon after a local realtor bought the property.

Hughes said the closure of these services will both leave people on the streets worse off and force them to congregate elsewhere, likely leading to more dangerous situations as people survive in tent cities. That notion echoed by Alfred Achoba of Canadian Mental Health Association last month with The Loop's closure.

The City of Kamloops is working to organize an "access hub" on the North Shore that will provide similar day space services, expected to offer meals, shelter from the weather and connections to other resources. That likely won't open until the late fall, but it does have BC Housing support, according to City staff.

Another day space across from The Mustard Seed, called The Gathering Place, hasn't opened yet but City staff said it's still in the works and is scheduled to open this summer.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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