A new cold weather shelter is set to start up in mid-November with a mandate to operate until the end of March, but more funding is needed to keep the doors open past December.
A sub-committee of the Sunshine Coast Homelessness Advisory Council (SCHAC) is focusing on the effort and currently has $13,000 to get the cold weather shelter started and running until December. However, it will take another $7,500 a month to continue operating in the New Year.
The monthly budget pays for things like staff time and administration costs for the shelter, which is housed in an annex building beside St. Hilda’s Anglican Church in Sechelt.
The cold weather shelter will be open every evening from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and is meant to replace the extreme weather emergency shelter that operated last year. The emergency shelter only opened when temperatures dipped below 0 degrees, and out of a possible 150 days during fall and winter, the shelter was activated just 34 times.
“So clients would come here and it was uncertain whether or not they would get shelter that evening, and at that point it could be pouring with rain and pretty cold and windy and there was no shelter,” said Kelly Foley of Sunshine Coast Community Services Society, noting the homeless who were turned away often ended up sleeping in the bush.
Foley is involved in the sub-committee of SCHAC along with Eleonora Molnar of Vancouver Coastal Health, Rev. Clarence Li of St. Hilda’s Anglican Church and Brenda Wilkinson, coordinator of the meal program linked to the shelter.
The team is appealing to the public to support the cold weather shelter so no homeless person has to sleep outside in the cold and wet this winter.
“We’ve come this far through partnerships and a lot of work, and we’re asking for support from the community for us to open it during the remaining three months, for January, February and March next year. Otherwise it will have to close at the end of December,” Foley said.
Molnar noted the group did petition the federal government for funding, but was told there was none available.
If you would like to give to the effort, you are asked to contact Foley by email at email@example.com.
The shelter is also in need of volunteers to help the soon-to-be-hired shelter coordinator. To volunteer, contact Wilkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.