A homeless shelter will continue to operate in Kelowna until Dec. 31 after receiving two extensions.
Inn from the Cold can continue to house homeless citizens until the end of December, at which point the shelter will close at its current location, said Inn from the Cold executive director Jan Schulz, in a news release.
“Our landlord is allowing us to stay until the end of the first week in January, which means we can accept homeless through Christmas to the end of the month,” says Schulz, reporting that a new location has not been found for the Inn, despite significant search efforts and meetings with influential groups such as the City of Kelowna and the Chamber of Commerce.
“At this point, and given our lack of success in securing a new lease, we are out of options. With all city shelters at capacity despite some homeless having moved to supportive housing, we see no way to prevent having to turn people out onto the streets, come Dec. 31.”
Even when a willing landlord with suitable space was found, City of Kelowna and BC Housing fears about community backlash prevented the Inn from capitalizing on an opportunity to lease new space.
“Sadly, the criteria the new location would need to meet pretty much eliminates any and all opportunities,” says Schulz, adding “at the end of the day, and despite all the talk, it seems no one has an appetite to give a hand up to Kelowna’s most vulnerable. And, while the Journey Home strategy may offer options longer term, solutions are needed now to get people off the streets and into programs that can help them get back on their feet.”
Schulz contends that all homeless shelters are not run the same, nor should the community expect that all will have the same impact on the neighbourhood in which they operate.
Citing the Inn’s relatively low profile at its current location, its extensive good neighbor protocols and the fact that someone was needed outside to help the media find the shelter when they came to visit, she says “I truly believe that if some good Samaritan were to give us the chance, they would find that their trust is not misplaced.”
While the Inn isn’t holding out much hope for a lease, it is asking to be notified if anyone knows of a space – a church, a warehouse – anywhere that the shelter can temporarily locate January through March in order to provide the homeless shelter through to the end of the winter season.
Anyone who can help is urged to contact Schulz at firstname.lastname@example.org.