Kamloops has half the needed shelter space: shelter provider | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops has half the needed shelter space: shelter provider

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With colder weather coming down on the Kamloops area, two local shelter providers are expecting to see lineups outside their doors this week.

The Stuart Wood shelter downtown has been filling beyond its capacity since it opened with 24 beds earlier this month.

Operator Out of the Cold Kamloops runs it on a first-come, first-serve basis, then rotates the overflow into a warming space throughout the night, executive director Renee Stein said.

"Our beds are full within the first five minutes," Stein said. "We always have a lineup before we open. We're full immediately."

Stein keeps a running tally of all the people who have come through the shelter. There's been 200 unique people come through their doors since it opened Nov. 7.

She estimates that with all other shelters in Kamloops also at capacity — they provide 209 beds combined — they are only serving half the homeless population in the city.

"So if we're still seeing 200 come through our door, then we need to double our spaces," she said.

Overnight temperatures were expected to stay below -10 C until Dec. 4, according to Environment Canada.

Stein is worried for the health and wellbeing of the dozens who can't fit in the already-filled shelter spaces.

"Our folks are survivors. They've already survived trauma and addiction, but asking folks to survive -24 C is definitely an ask that's too much," she said.

The Loop in North Kamloops will open up its doors tonight, which it has done several times in the past month when temperatures drop. Although it's not permitted to operate as a shelter, service coordinator Glenn Hilke said the volunteers will open the doors anyway because of the risk to life for people on the streets.

"Our process is we open at 8 p.m., then immediately contact shelters to see if they are already at capacity. We continue to stay in contact until 10 p.m., especially those with curfew, to see if any spaces open up due to no shows," Hilke said. "For those who we cannot find a place for, they are welcome to stay at The Loop."

Other service providers, like ASK Wellness, have provided warming spaces overnight in some of their facilities earlier this season, but there are no plans to do so again.

There are 209 shelter spaces available in Kamloops, scattered from the former Yacht Club on River Street, to Merit Place on Notre Dame Drive, Emerald Centre on Victoria Street West and Stuart Wood on Battle Street.

The Loop, although it's not permitted to, is the only shelter space in North Kamloops and doesn't factor into the 209 shelter spaces in Kamloops.

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