Cold weather plays role in Kamloops's shrinking homeless shelter space | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Cold weather plays role in Kamloops's shrinking homeless shelter space

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February 11, 2021 - 4:29 PM

Available shelter space for the homeless in Kamloops continues to vanish as frigid weather plays a significant role in pushing a growing number of people inside shelters.

All of the homeless facilities in the city were full the last two nights, leaving officials to open an overflow temporary facility at Memorial Arena on Tuesday night, Feb. 9, according to acting Canadian Mental Health Association Kamloops branch executive director Alfred Achoba.

They saw an increase of 21 people the first night with 10 using the temporary shelter as a warming station and on the second night 30 people spent the night while 13 used it to warm up. He describes a warming station as a place where clients have come to a shelter briefly and left, perhaps for a break from the weather or for a meal. 

However, despite the increase in numbers at the Memorial site, Achoba believes they will meet demand for shelter spaces tonight, Feb. 11, albeit with a full capacity at all shelters including Memorial.

As well, they may have to open some of the 15 backup spaces at the Rosethorn House, a supportive housing unit on West Victoria Street.

"(We) haven't had to use those beds, (some) people are still choosing to stay outside... we encourage people to come indoors. A small group are choosing to stay outside," Achoba says.

He also believes shelter spaces continue to grow in popularity with changes to services available at Canadian Mental Health Association facilities, which, as of this year, allow clients to stay 24/7 rather than just overnight, which gives them more time and ability to focus on goals and issues. They also are afforded more privacy in the new temporary facilities.

"The goal (is) to get as many people housed as possible... but homelessness is a broad issue, there are several reasons for it so it's hard to say what the homeless numbers will be (as a result of the work being done at shelters)."

Achoba points to a homeless count in a few months that will give a better picture of progress.

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