Temporary food stations operating in Kelowna for homeless during pandemic - InfoNews

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Temporary food stations operating in Kelowna for homeless during pandemic

A temporary station set up next to the Queensway Transit Exchange in downtown Kelowna is being used to provide free lunches for homeless people.
May 17, 2020 - 6:30 AM

Those living rough on the streets of Kelowna are finding it easier to eat and have a place to rest during the pandemic thanks to local non-profit organizations.

Metro Community Church has set up an outdoor drop-in station next to the Rotary Centre for the Arts for those who need to place to stay during the day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m, board member Jason Siebenga said.

Kelowna's Gospel Mission is also providing food to that location, as well as to City Park and next to the Queensway Transit Exchange temporarily during the pandemic.

“I think one of the biggest things people are struggling with who are experiencing homelessness is that there is nowhere that they can feel welcome, and so they spend their day being chased around town… that group of people is having a really tough time and we’re trying to give them places to make them feel welcome and it provides a better place for them rather than hanging out in a back alley somewhere,” Siebenga said.

The former temporary winter shelter Welcome Inn on Ellis Street has also been transformed into a hygiene centre for the homeless, which includes laundry, phone services and showers.

“Had COVID not happened that would have just closed down,” he said.

Metro also plans to transform a location next to Metro Central on St. Paul Street, into a courtyard to include gardens with gardens and shade to “provide a place for people to get off the street and relax,” he said.

“The courtyard is something that we had intended to do prior and is something that is now being fast-tracked.”

B.C. Housing has also identified spaces across the province for homeless individuals to self isolate if there is a COVID-19 outbreak.

There are almost 200 people in Kamloops and the Okanagan who are being put up in hotel rooms and recreation facilities in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

While many of those people are homeless, there are others who just don’t have safe places to quarantine themselves.

READ MORE: Penticton church to be used as self-isolation space for homeless amid pandemic

The Kelowna Curling Club is being held in reserve with the potential for 40 more spaces. It hasn’t been activated but supplies have been delivered there.

Kelowna has an estimated 150 people sleeping rough, about one-third of which are camping overnight at the Recreation Avenue City of Kelowna-sanctioned campground.

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