Cold winter days will be a little more bearable for those experiencing homelessness now that two new warming centres have opened in downtown Nanaimo.
A press release from the United Way notes that warming centres opened Monday, Jan. 18, at the Society for Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy at 489 Wallace St. and the 7-10 Club at 285 Prideaux St.
The centres are being funded by the United Way with federal funding through the Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy. They will be open until March 31, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and will be able to accommodate 10-15 people at a time. The Wallace Street warming centre will be open Monday to Saturday and the Prideaux location will be open seven days a week. Hot drinks and snacks will be available.
“We are grateful to help our vulnerable neighbours find a safe, warm, dry place to be during the day thanks to the federal government’s support and our local community service providers,” said Signy Madden, executive director of the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, in the release.
She added that hard work has gone into opening the warming centres, but stressed that it’s not a solution to house “the over 600 people” experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo.
“Given the high percentage of homeless individuals in Nanaimo that are living unsheltered, resources to provide them warming opportunities are long overdue,” said Chantale Roelens, executive director of SEIA, in the release. “We are working hard with our partners to support these individuals with a warm, safe place to rest during the day and to get resources to survive outside in the winter weather.”
According to the release, approximately $110,000 in federal funding granted through United Way was directed by the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition for the operational costs associated with the warming centres.