New 'pods' for B.C.’s homeless during COVID-19 popping up in Vernon - InfoNews

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New 'pods' for B.C.’s homeless during COVID-19 popping up in Vernon

These pods are filling Vernon Curling Club and will soon go into other recreation facilities in B.C. as spaces for the homeless during COVID-19.
Image Credit: Submitted/B.C. Housing
May 12, 2020 - 7:00 AM

As the province continues to prepare for a possible surge of COVID-19 cases amongst people who don’t have homes or safe places to self-isolate, a new sleeping system is filling a Vernon curling rink.

In the past, homeless shelters consisted of rows of bunk beds, which have limitations when it comes to safe distancing during the pandemic.

“B.C. Housing is partnering with Staples Business Advantage to provide pop-up pods that are being rapidly installed to provide privacy,” an email from B.C. Housing to states. “The advantage of this pop-up solution is the speed at which the pods can be assembled. There are several emergency response centres across the province with the pods being set-up. Vernon is the first location where they are in active use.”

The province has set aside almost 2,500 rooms throughout B.C. – including 441 in the Okanagan and Kamloops – mostly for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless who need safer places to stay.

Seventy of those spaces, all of which are being occupied, are at the Vernon Curling Club.

While many spaces are in hotels, others are in recreation centres. Arenas and churches have also been identified for use but are not yet set up.

B.C. Housing does not have a cost breakdown for these spaces but said, in an email, that the hotel rooms are being rented at “a significant cost savings, below market rental rate.”

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