Some of Kelowna’s most vulnerable women will now have a service that allows them to find refuge from the streets on a night-to-night basis.
City council unanimously approved allotment of $5,000 in emergency funding that would allow the Gospel Mission to open a six-bed shelter for women aged 19 and older.
“The site is situated downtown…and it’s accessible. There’s a separate entrance and bathroom that are ready for use today,” said Central Okanagan foundation‘s Cheryl Miller, of the Gospel Mission’s converted medical office, in the previously all-male shelter.
The need to find space recently came to the fore, when it became clear that there’s a growing number of at-risk women who have no access to shelter during the summer months.
Last May, NOW Canada turned away 33 women from its shelter because of a lack of space.
By June, that number had risen to 50.
“Turn-aways become more frequent in the summer months when the cost of motel units increases, and Inn from the Cold and other temporary resources are not available,” said Miller.
Operation of the facility will continue into the fall, and Gospel Mission staff have been in talks with B.C. Housing that would allow them to continue to the program on a yearly basis.
Mayor Sharon Shepherd thanked the mission’s Randy Benson for filling a gap in the community, while Coun. Charlie Hodge said approval of the funding was a “no-brainer.”
The project is in partnership with NOW Canada and will be funded in part by the City of Kelowna and the United Way.
Interior Health has also been asked to partner in the program.