With winter weeks away, there will be more emergency shelter beds to try to help people in Nanaimo come in from the cold.
The Nanaimo Women’s Centre announced today that it is partnering with St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, B.C. Housing and other agencies to open a new winter shelter with 35 beds for men and women experiencing homelessness.
The initiative is beginning immediately, with 15 beds to be available Dec. 1.
Lesley Clarke, executive director of Nanaimo Women’s Resources Society, said the project hasn’t been in the works very long.
“It’s part of a community-wide effort to make sure that we have enough spaces for people to get in out of the weather,” she said, adding that Dec. 1 was a targeted date. “It’s a very short timeline for us. Everybody has just dropped everything to make this happen, but we want to make sure that we’re responding to the need.”
The project is funded by the provincial government through B.C. Housing, according to a press release from the women’s centre. The shelter will be set up in the church’s basement which Clarke said will work well as a space. She said the church has “been stellar” in its co-operation on the project.
“They have worked with us to make everything possible,” she said. “They really have put a huge amount of energy and goodwill behind this.”
Those being sheltered will get a bed and an evening meal. Breakfasts will be off-site through a partnership with the 7-10 Club. Clarke said the shelter will have separated areas for men and women.
“We’ll have things like books and games and things for people to occupy themselves with. And the people won’t be all crammed together because it’s a really big space,” she said.
Tenancy support workers and Nanaimo Citizen Advocacy will provide related services.
“We want to ensure that the shelter will be an asset to the surrounding neighbourhood, and that our guests conduct themselves respectfully so that this service is a success for the church, our guests and the wider community,” said Sue Carlson of Nanaimo Citizen Advocacy in the press release.
Clarke said her team knocked on doors in the immediate area around the church and received a positive respons, donations of items and other offers to help.
“I feel really proud of how Nanaimo has stepped up to support the effort and I’m looking forward to everybody kind of getting behind this and making sure that everybody in the community has a place to be over the winter,” she said.