Maurice, a well-known homeless man in Lake Country, is back on the streets despite the best efforts of a community member who offered him shelter.
He spent the last four months living in a barn next to the home of a Lake Country woman who answered a social media call for help.
Maurice is one of only a few visibly homeless people in the community, and as winter set in the aim was to get him in a place he could stay safe. It worked for a while, but his needs were more complex than expected and the demands he created were difficult to navigate.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said he refused to get help for his mental illness when she asked him numerous times and she had concerns for her own safety after a few incidents.
Though things didn’t work out at the home she provided and that he is no longer living in the barn, the woman said doesn’t want others to be deterred from helping him. It was also never her intention to shelter him for an extended period of time after the winter months.
That kind of help, warn area advocates, might be better coming from people with more experience.
“I think oftentimes people are motivated by compassion without understanding the complexities homelessness individuals deal with,” said Randy Benson, executive director of Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.
“I think their intentions are good, but they may not understand all the issues that people are dealing with, so our encouragement to people is to contact services like ourselves or other shelters that work with this population group and understand some of the issues they face and facilitate or help the person connect with those services.”
Benson has heard of similar examples where people are good-hearted, but get into a situation after not understand the complexities of homelessness and after only meeting a person for a brief time.
He said the mission will often get contacted about people in the community that need help and the shelter does have an outreach worker that can assist individuals.
“If people run into or see an individual that might need assistance, give us a call,” he said.
While he encourages people to help others, he said to ask for assistance from those with experience in the field before helping an individual.
“If someone is living in isolation without the supports they need to get ahead, then they’re going to probably experience those issues and hardships that are hard to overcome,” he said.
“Get to know what services are available to these people and find out where to help.”