Since being approved for a $20,000 grant from the city, the West Kelowna Shelter Society has been able to continue its seven days a week meal program for lower income community members.
“On the Westside this is the only shelter available and the only outreach program for people living in poverty. Not everyone is living in the shelter. Many people are living in a home with other people in poverty. Our outreach program provides for people in those situations as well,” says Rosemary Weighill, President of the West Kelowna Shelter Society.
Andrea Fransen, is a client of the shelter society who uses the meal programs on a daily basis. She says, without the support of the society she would still be homeless.
“I come here everyday for lunch, I like the resources, I like that they open their doors to the homeless. I was homeless before I stayed at Inn from the Cold in Kelowna.”
According to Weighhill, discussions around the need for a transition house have taken place with the local municipality, but the resources needed aren’t available.
“What we would really like to see on the Westside is some bridge housing, transitional, or support homes for people. I know this is something the local government is working on, there’s just nothing available yet.”
The shelter is working on building community engagement, understanding and education programs for the public.
The overdose reduction site is one of the programs working well, but needs more community education, says Weighill.
“It’s a slower process, our priority was to get people out of the cold and off the streets, and safe and housed and now we will work on the community.”
The shelters 38 beds have been full since January.