Local group wants to buy storage sheds where Vernon homeless can store belongings - InfoNews

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Local group wants to buy storage sheds where Vernon homeless can store belongings

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January 09, 2017 - 3:10 PM

VERNON - A local organization is hoping to fill a big need in the community by purchasing storage sheds for homeless people in Vernon to store their belongings.

The Upper Room Mission has plans to provide the storage free of charge for those who literally "carry their house on their back," spokesperson Lisa Anderson says in a media release.

“With recent homeless camps being decommissioned, we have seen an increase in the number of people turning up at the Mission with all of their belongings, and nowhere to store them. At one point our basement, which is also our women’s drop-in centre, was full of people’s personal belongings. We wanted to accommodate everyone, but we just did not have the space to do so,” Anderson says.

That’s when she learned how Kelowna was handling the situation. There, the Kelowna Gospel Mission partnered with the city and B.C. Housing to provide 12 storage sheds.

Anderson is part of Vernon’s Camp Okanagan Outreach Liaison Team, or COOL Team, and learned about the sheds from Clint Kanester, manager of protective services for the City of Vernon. He shared that the new sheds being offered at Kelowna Gospel Mission were working out well and Kelowna Bylaw has noticed a decrease in the number of carts and belongings on Leon Avenue, which in the past were generating complaints from downtown residents. 

“We see the need, and are working on a similar program for Vernon,” Anderson says. “Before we go ahead with the sheds, we would first like to meet with city and bylaw officials, as well as the Downtown Vernon Association to go over our plans, and see if they have any input or ideas.”

The Mission recently received a one-time donation from Vernon City Council in the amount of $3,402 from their Food for Fines Campaign, plus $1,460 from the city’s Jeans Day program.

“Our plan is to use the donated monies we acquired from the city to purchase and set up storage sheds so Vernon’s street entrenched population has a place to keep their personal belongings, free of charge,” Anderson says.

The storage units would also offer a secure place for individuals sleeping outside to store their belongings. The hope, Anderson says, is that giving them a safe place to store their personal property for an extended period of time will encourage them to come out of the cold and access the Extreme Weather Response Program.

Other benefits include having a place for individuals to store their belongings when they need to attend meetings or a doctor’s appointment, for example. The storage units will hopefully be another touch point for people who might not be accessing the Upper Room Mission’s services, Anderson says.

The Mission is still sourcing out the units, and hopes to have them available as soon as possible.

These storage sheds are available for homeless people in Kelowna.
These storage sheds are available for homeless people in Kelowna.
Image Credit: Contributed

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