City of Kamloops to announce new 'shelter solutions' in coming weeks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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City of Kamloops to announce new 'shelter solutions' in coming weeks


More shelter space is expected in Kamloops as the City prepares to make an announcement within two weeks.

The City has been under pressure to find more spaces for people living without shelter as there currently are not enough spaces for everyone who might need them and the largest shelter in the city is currently hosted at the Memorial Arena.

"We certainly will be coming out with some shelter solutions within the coming weeks," Ty Helgason, social and community development supervisor for the City of Kamloops said. "I think we've done a good job to come up with some solutions."

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Helgason is referring to City officials in partnership with B.C. Housing and other non-profits who provide services to homeless individuals.

Finding and securing a space to provide more shelter space has been a challenge for both the City and B.C. Housing, and it's the reason why B.C. Housing currently leases the Memorial Arena indefinitely.

The Memorial Arena shelter, operated by Canadian Mental Health Association, was expanded to 50 beds in July as the shelter at the neighbouring curling club arena was shuttered.

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That still left at least many people in Kamloops without a sheltered bed to sleep on overnight, according to data accumulated in the 2021 Point in Time count. There are 206 people in Kamloops without a permanent shelter that meet the prescribed definition of homelessness.

There are 137 emergency shelter beds in Kamloops, according to B.C. Housing.

Point in Time head counts, however, are considered an under count because there are people the volunteers fail to reach. The hidden homeless often includes people couch surfing that are the most difficult to identify.

While the City works with B.C. Housing to identify new shelter spaces through provincial funding, a federal grant administered through the City is open for applications aimed at providing services to people who are currently homeless or at risk.

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The City has $1.3 million in federal funding to distribute from 2022 to 2024 to various non-profits and service agencies through the federal Reaching Home fund.

Although the grant can be used for capital projects, like new shelter or housing developments, Helgason said in B.C., unlike other provinces, it's typically used for employees or supplies because B.C. Housing handles funding for capital projects.

The Reaching Home grant has been used for various projects like funding outreach work, opening warming spaces and meals. Last winter, a part of the grant was used to have a nurse visit people under isolation orders because of COVID-19, Helgason said.

The call for proposals us open until Nov. 26, 2021.

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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