People experiencing homelessness are affected disproportionately by the COVID-19 pandemic. Black Press File Photo

One day at a time for Campbell River homeless population

Group feels effects of pandemic more than others

Social distancing, hand washing and following public health guidelines are all hard, but are infinitely more difficult for those experiencing homelessness.

Sue Moen is the Supportive Housing Services Manager at Evergreen House Emergency Shelter and part of the Campbell River and District Coalition to end Homelessness. She has been working with people experiencing homelessness in the city, and has seen the daily struggles that they are going through.

She said that these people have been affected “horrendously, as you can imagine,” adding that “it’s nigh on impossible for people who are already experiencing homelessness, are disadvantaged and have limited access to resources to begin with, now that everything has closed.”

People who experience homelessness are dealing with even more stigma than usual due to their lack of ability to follow public health guidelines. The people Moen works with usually spend their time in with their friends and people who are close, but have been forced to be apart from each other, which makes it even more difficult to cope with the crisis.

Typically, 22 people can sleep at the Evergreen House Emergency Shelter where Moen works. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, that number has been decreased, but only by two beds. Those 20 guests are able to find a place to stay through the crisis, and to have a sense of normalcy, Moen explained.

“We’ve set aside rooms as isolation rooms should the pandemic affect anyone in the shelter. We have a good pandemic plan and we are able to deal with that. We’ve created a sense of community here. We treat each other as a family group as opposed to a bunch of strangers who have to be very far apart,” she said. “There’s anxiety, fear, but we’re doing some things together like planting a food garden and trying to provide some extra services that we would not normally provide in an effort to help people follow the public health guidelines.”

Those 20 people are only a small number of the people who are facing these kinds of challenges in the city. Though the regularly scheduled Homelessness Point in Time count was postponed for 2020, the last available data (from 2018) shows that 81 people in the city were identified as experiencing homelessness in some way. Though they do not have hard numbers at this time, Moen and other agency representatives have seen the population grow over the past few years.

“Anecdotally and looking at individual agency stats, we think it has grown. We know at a gut level for even the last count that there were a lot of different specific populations who were under-represented,” she said.

The coalition is still working on its advocacy and communication efforts, especially with added stresses on vulnerable populations. One group that Moen and her colleagues have their eye on is the people who were displaced in the April 8 fire on Dogwood Street and 9 Avenue. They are working to ensure those people do not end up homeless after the emergency support runs out.

“We as a coalition have offered our services to help coordinate the response to that population along with offering the city a plan for emergency temporary shelter for the people who are already experiencing homelessness.”

Part of the coalition’s mandate is to provide a unified voice to help coordinate supports in the city and outlying communities. While Moen appreciates the help that various community members have offered in the last few weeks, she and the coalition are working to present a streamlined effort to help people respond in a meaningful way.

“Even the supports that are there, because of the way that services are having to be delivered, it’s dehumanizing. They can’t go to places where they used to go and be able to have a meal. They’re getting bags handed to them out of a door,” she said.

“There has been a lot of generous community response including food hampers, getting together and helping people that are out of work or facing extra bills because of the pandemic. Those services and that support isn’t accessible to people who are experiencing homelessness,” Moen added. “There’s no place to deliver a food hamper, there’s nowhere to cook the food that’s in the hamper.”

The best way to be a part of a solution, she suggested, was to ask city council to take on a leadership role to help with the problem of homelessness in the city, especially during the pandemic.

Until then, she and the people she works with will continue “facing every day as a day that we have never experienced before. It is another layer of uncertainty on our guests’ lives. It’s wearing and it’s tiring, but we’re very grateful.”

RELATED: Northern B.C. town builds camp on outskirt of town for homeless population

City of Campbell River opening more public washrooms

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusHomelessLocal News

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Campbell River Gun Club outdoor range is located on Argonaut Road west of Campbell River. CRGC/Facebook photo
Campbell River Gun Club range shutdown after complaints of stray bullets

The Campbell River Gun Club has shut down its rifle and pistol… Continue reading

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations in Gold River area

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Students at a previous NICBot Camp at the Campbell River campus show off what kind of tasks they’ve programmed their robot to do. Mirror File Photo
Youth camps are back at NIC this summer

Camps offered ‘with full health and safety plans in place to ensure the safety of all our students’

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

South Surrey farmland, March 2020. The province’s crackdown on secondary residences sparked protests that have the NDP government engaged in a lengthy rewrite of its legislation. (Tracy Holmes/Peace Arch News)
B.C. NDP now wants to keep even ‘non-farmers’ on the land

‘Grandfathering’ of second residences extended again

Most Read