Funding passed on to the Salvation Army from the city will allow the Extreme Weather Shelter to be open longer this year.
City council received $50,000 from the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) in July and then directed the city’s Homelessness Coalition to decide where the funds could best be spent.
The coalition made the decision to grant $6,780 of the funding to the Salvation Army at a meeting on Nov. 10.
“This money would allow for an extension to the shelter hours and allow them to open for an additional 15 days this year,” said Laura Ciarniello, the city’s general manager of corporate services, in a report to council. “It is clear that this expenditure directly addresses the homelessness issue.”
The Extreme Weather Shelter provides a safe, warm, dry place for the homeless. Through the shelter the Salvation Army provides low barrier emergency housing, safety and referrals to support services. At the shelter, each person is given toiletries, a shower, and a clean set of pajamas, said Kevin Mack, Salvation Army community ministries director.
For the past five years, the Extreme Weather Shelter has been open from Nov. 1 to Mar. 31, weather dependent, typically from 9 p.m.-7 a.m.
Last year Radiant Life church opened its building from 6-9 p.m. to help extend the hours of the shelter, however, this year it was unable to do so.
“Radiant Life has now requested that the Salvation Army take over this initiative,” Mack said in a report to council. “Unfortunately we, the Salvation Army, don’t have funds in our budget to cover the additional cost. We love working with volunteers but must have two staff on while the facility is open for safety purposes.”
With the funding from VIHA, the shelter is expected to be open for roughly 85 nights this year with two staff for three hours each night.