Cllementem facility proving useful for Kamloops' homeless population

Since the storage facility on West Victoria Street opened in April 2018, laundry services, washrooms and a shower have been added, while a community nurse visits on a weekly basis conduct private consultations with those using the building.

A storage facility for the homeless of Kamloops that opened in April 2018 has proven to be a success.

The Cllementem facility, located at 48 West Victoria St., offers several benefits to users, such as access to personal storage containers, charging outlets for cellphones and a fixed address that can be used for mail.

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Since it opened, laundry services, washrooms and a shower have been added, while a community nurse visits on a weekly basis conduct private consultations with those using the building.

“The storage facility has grown in usage and in the amount of services available out of that facility, said Ty Helgason, acting social and community development supervisor for the City of Kamloops.

“The actual storage component of it filled up quickly from the time it opened and it has stayed at its maximum utilization ever since, so it’s definitely a popular service.”

The facility, which has 65 storage bins, is operated by the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society.

One user of the facility, who wished to remain anonymous, had nothing but kind words for the services being provided.

“These guys here are fantastic,” he said. “These guys just did it out of the kindness of their heart. Everything is free. Nobody comes here and abuses the place. This facility, they’ve got the right people working here. It’s a solid representation of what it means to be kind-hearted and generous.”

Another user of the facility, John Bradley Hawkins, who enjoys hanging out nearby, is concerned about access during the winter months.

“I’m here every day. I have a coffee,” he said. “I look forward to a coffee in the morning. I get my coffee and I enjoy it. But in the wintertime, you need a place to come out of the cold because the thing is, you spend all night in the cold. You’ve got to understand that.”

At this time, Helgason said, there are no plans for additions to the storage facility or other similar facilities in Kamloops.

Opening the facility was done with input from First United Church in Vancouver. City staff travelled to Vancouver in early 2018 to see firsthand how a storage facility program worked there.

Funding was provided, in part, by the federal government. The project cost between $30,000 and $40,000 to start, which included minor renovations to the building. The city is providing the space, which it is leasing to the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society. The program costs about $60,000 per year to run, including staffing and supplies.

The building formerly housed the city's graffiti task force and, before that, was a gas station.

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