Kelowna’s homeless will still have a roof over their heads with Inn from the Cold, at least until Dec. 31, thanks to a second extension on the emergency shelter’s current lease.
“We’re grateful to our current landlord that we can continue to shelter some of Kelowna’s most vulnerable, although a closure date in the dead of winter is troublesome as these people will likely have nowhere else to go,” said Inn from the Cold executive director Jan Schulz.
The shelter’s lease was originally set to expire Oct. 31.
While a portion of the citizens the Inn shelters or supports through other services will move to Kelowna’s first purpose-built modular housing Nov. 1, the Inn remains at capacity, along with other shelters in the area. Schulz notes that the supportive housing is a stepping stone from homelessness and marginalization to security, belonging and contributing as a member of the community.
“Those approved for supportive housing will pay rent but will also receive the necessary support to ensure their journey back from homelessness will be a success,” she said.
In the meantime, the Inn struggles with the challenges that come with uncertainty about the shelter’s future, including heightened anxiety amongst those being sheltered, difficulties retaining qualified staff and heavy workloads for those remaining.
“Surely, a solution can be found. I can’t imagine anyone finds palatable the alternative of more people living rough on Kelowna’s streets in winter,” says Schulz, noting that since the Mayor and many of the councillors elected were the same who oversaw Journey Home, perhaps the City can help resolve the situation before it becomes even more critical.
“Between managing the shelter short-staffed, trying to locate new space and facilitating those moving to modular housing, we are stretched pretty thin and could really use some help,” says Schulz.
The Inn seeks 2500 square feet of leasable space, warehouse or otherwise, preferably in a commercial setting outside of downtown and will employ extensive good neighbour protocols to ensure minimal impact on the surrounding community. Anyone who can help is urged to contact Schulz at email@example.com.
“We are hugely grateful for any help, but ask that those emailing nasty comments about what we can do with the Kelowna citizens we shelter to please desist. The people we shelter could be your neighbours or they could be you, as the line between having a home or being without is thin and anyone can find themselves on the other side of it.”