Social services in Penticton are bracing for the cold weather, and on Nov. 1 the temporary shelter at the Salvation Army’s Compass House on Main Street opened its doors to help the city’s homeless do the same.
Compass House moved from its previous location at 123 Nanaimo Ave. E. in June 2019 to its new location at 1706 Main St. Roger Evans, the manager for the year-round shelter, said the temporary shelter is open within the Compass House but it is operated by the Penticton and District Society for Community Living (PDSCL).
“The Compass House still remains full (despite the housing that has come online recently). I’m not sure what is going to happen with the temporary shelter. We have 20 extra beds and I have the ability to put 10 more cots out if needed,” said Evans. “But it’s still going to be in the same shelter it was in last year.”
Evans said the program is running a little differently this year since Compass House was able to relocate. He said instead of people showing up earlier in the day to put their name on the list to get a bed for the evening, the bed will be reserved for the same person each night as long as they are using it. The shelter will start taking reservations at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 and, following that, new intakes can visit the shelter at 6:30 p.m. each night to see if there are beds available.
“They just have to be in for curfew at 11 p.m., so if they are not there and there is someone else who needs the bed then they will take it,” said Evans. “So as long as they are using it, it’s theirs. I think the 30 beds will be adequate, with the supportive housing up and running it did take quite a few people off the street. So we’re not seeing as many people coming to the door to get turned away like we had last year.”
Additionally, the temporary shelter will have access to the three meals a day provided by the Compass House and those who access it will be allowed to stay in the shelter throughout the day. Last year, those using the temporary shelter had to vacate the premise at 8 a.m. each day and wait until 9 p.m. that night to return for their bed.
Evans said the facility is a “wet” one, so drugs and alcohol will be permitted on the premise.
“We have an overdose prevention site (OPS) room for injections in the building, we have an OPS tent for inhalants and drinking outside in the smoking area,” said Evans. “And we do permit pets for those that have them. They can stay here all day indoors. We serve three meals a day and we have a common area where they can hang out and play cards or whatever else.”
Evans said he is “looking forward to the challenge” of helping the temporary shelter with its new operating system inside the Compass House Shelter’s new location. The temporary shelter is funded by the province’s temporary and extreme weather response shelter program, which will see 1,355 temporary shelter spaces and 820 extreme weather response shelters open across the province from Nov. 1 to March 31.
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