Kamloops steps up effort to battle homelessness - InfoNews.ca

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Kamloops steps up effort to battle homelessness

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October 12, 2017 - 1:28 PM

KAMLOOPS - Turning Stuart Wood Elementary School into an extreme weather response shelter is one of several initiatives aimed at the homelessness crisis announced by the City of Kamloops today.

Interim mayor Arjun Singh made the announcements during a media conference today, Oct. 12.

Singh says the city will bring 40 to 50 beds into the former school, which has been vacant for two years, and opening the doors when the overnight temperature drops to an unsafe level.

"It will be activated as needed during extreme weather events to prevent loss of life," he says. "This temporary use for extreme weather does not take away from the ongoing discussion regarding the future community use of Stuart Wood School. Planning is very much underway with multiple partners, but at this time council views this as an opportunity to support an immediate need to keep lives safe over the winter months."

The beds will be 100 per cent funded by the province through B.C. Housing.

Another initiative announced today is called the Rapid Rehousing from Homelessness Shelter Program.

While in the preliminary stages, the city is exploring where it could add temporary shelters to meet some of the housing needs until a permanent solution is found.

"We are investigating suitable locations for this temporary shelter program which will be decommissioned once more permanent options become available," Singh says. "Permanent housing solutions are an important piece to meet the basic needs of our community. Housing not only offers a place to sleep, it provides security, privacy and stability to address one's life challenges."

The city is also bringing in a concept modelled after a pilot project in Vancouver that involves the creation of permanent modular apartments. The units will be located on the North and South shores, and will provide more affordable housing options in Kamloops.

"This concept... provides a quick affordable option for permanent supported housing," he says. "A significant component of this program... includes the funding to provide tenants with supports to maintain their housing and access services to address any major challenges they may have."

The city has also put out a call for proposals to find projects that will provide housing support to those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This will be funded through the federal government's Homelessness Partnering Strategy with more than $324,000 allocated for Kamloops over the next two years while more than $130,000 is earmarked in 2018-2019 for Aboriginal homelessness.

Singh says the city's homeless count, normally held in the fall, will be postponed until spring to align it with the national homeless count.

As well, 75 more sharps and syringe disposal bins will be installed throughout the city over the next two weeks. Right now the city only has six containers placed around town for needles.

Get caught up on the homeless issue in Kamloops here.


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