The Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness needs help from the community to find a location for an Emergency Weather Shelter (EWS) this year.
Emergency Weather Shelters are funded by BC Housing, and typically operate from Nov. 1 to March 31, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. They provide overnight shelter and a hot meal to people experiencing homelessness during the winter when people sleeping outside are most vulnerable. Last year the Salvation Army provided the service, but they are unable to do so in 2021/22.
“At this time, we have nobody in our community who is able to take on an emergency weather shelter,” said CRDCEH coordinator Stefanie Hendrickson during this month’s coalition meeting.
“The two problems that we’re having are location and then also staffing. Everybody is struggling to find staff right now, and most organizations are running at a pretty maxed-out capacity,” she said. “We’re getting very close to November first, so it would be good if we could find a solution.”
Campbell River’s windy wet winters are difficult for people who are experiencing homelessness.
“During the day, people are able to access Kwesa Place, a laundry and shower program run by Laichwiltach Family Life Society, as well as similar services at the Salvation Army Centre of Hope,” Hendrickson said in a press release. “However, at night, people are left vulnerable. Furthermore, there is simply not enough space in local programs for people to be able to dry their gear during the day. This means that people often go to sleep in already wet equipment from previous nights.”
The difficulty is not in funding, as the shelters are funded through B.C. Housing, but in finding a physical location and people to staff it.
“If a solution is not found, this will be the first time in recent memory that Campbell River is not able to provide this service,” Hendrickson said in the release. “This will mean that the unhoused members of our community will be left even more vulnerable over the winter months.”
The coalition is asking for anyone with experience working or volunteering with vulnerable populations and may be interested in nighttime seasonal work to reach out. The coalition is also asking the community to connect if they have any solutions for a location.
“We were thinking probably 15 beds. If the site is in the greater downtown area it’s going to be more well-used than a site that is further out,” Hendrickson said during the meeting. “
“The thing is just trying to keep people alive in the winter.”
Those who are able to help can contact the Coalition to End Homelessness at email@example.com.