As local homeless shelters were forced to implement physical-distancing measures due to COVID-19, additional beds in temporary shelters were made available in two locations in April.
One is located in North Kamloops at 185 Royal Ave., the former home of The Branch shelter, and another is downtown in Memorial Arena in the 700-block of Victoria Street.
Of the two, only the location at 185 Royal Avenue has thus far been needed.
“We’re seeing moderate usage at all three currently operating shelters,” said Ty Helgason, the City of Kamloops’ acting social and community development supervisor.
That includes the shelters at the Mustard Seed Kamloops and Emerald Centre, downtown on West Victoria Street.
Due to pandemic-related physical-distancing guidelines, 15 beds were lost at Emerald Centre and an additional 10 beds were removed at the Mustard Seed.
To make up for those lost beds, space for 25 people was made available at the former Branch location.
An additional 50 beds are available at Memorial Arena, which has been reserved by the city to use as a shelter until Oct. 31.
In addition to the shelters, there are 20 hotel rooms that have been secured for anyone awaiting COVID-19 test results.
On top of these measures, the city anticipated an impact on homeless youth.
“We were prepared with four isolation suites for youth with COVID,” Helgason said, noting those facilities have not yet been necessary.
In addition to those measures, the city has also relaxed its temporary outdoor shelter bylaw, allowing people to keep their camp in place if they keep it tidy and do not receive complaints. against them.
The city has also extended the hours of the mini-storage facility created for the homeless at 48 West Victoria St. and opened all public washroom facilities that have access to hot water.