The provincial government is adding more shelter spaces around the province, naming Kamloops as one of multiple cities receiving funding.
The new beds being added by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing are geared to help ease pressure on communities where existing shelters are running at or over capacity.
The other shelter beds are being set up in Ladysmith, Duncan, Salt Spring Island, Nanaimo, Prince Rupert, Fort St. James, Burnaby Chilliwack and Kelowna.
A 30-bed shelter in Kamloops will be set up at The Mustard Seed New Life Community outreach centre on West Victoria Street to help the homeless have a safe, warm place to stay this winter.
The shelter is expected to open on Jan. 1, running every night until the end of March, The Mustard Seed managing director Diane Down told KTW.
While it is geared to bring people out of the cold, the shelter will not be a drop-in centre — the 30 beds have already been assigned to eligible candidates the organization has assessed.
“We co-ordinated conversation around how do you pick 30 people and put them all in the same room to sleep together for the night,” said Down, noting people’s behaviours, personal situations and how involved they are with the law factored into the decisions.
“Many of these folks are already accessing our services and, if they have good relationships with us, then we can vouch for their behaviour.”
Once the 30-bed shelter is closed on April 1, the hope is the 30 people will have a smooth transition to other housing projects in town, such as the Branch or Mission Flats Manor, Down said.
The outreach centre will be open 23 hours a day beginning on Jan. 1, as opposed to regular hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
It will be closed for cleaning for an hour between 8 and 9 p.m.
“Folks, if they’re not one of the identified 30, they can still come in and get a cup of coffee and warm up however long they want to — we’re not going to let them be sleeping on the floor, but they can still come in and access our services all night long,” Down said.
While temperatures so far this winter have been mild, demand for cold weather shelter has been evident.
Compared to last year, Kamloops’ Out of the Cold program has seen 200 more total visitors to the shelter in St. Paul’s Cathedral and about 20 more people per night through mid-December.
Shelter co-ordinator Renee Stein said the facility attributes the increase in part to the fact it is the only shelter of its kind operating in the city this winter, which hasn’t been the case in years past.
The Out of the Cold shelter operates on Wednesday and Sunday nights.