BC Housing is addressing the need for an emergency winter shelter in Penticton.
The provincial housing organization has put forward a proposal to the city for a temporary land use permit for Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street to be used as an emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness.
BC Housing would like to see the Winnipeg St. location used to supplement existing shelters in Penticton, something they don’t believe there is enough to be prepared for the winter.
The proposal is in response to COVID-19 pandemic, says BC Housing’s letter of intent.
City staff’s recommendation regarding the proposed shelter will be brought to city council Tuesday, Oct. 6.
City staff is recommending that the proposed shelter provide up to 42 beds, with the stipulation that all other beds at existing shelters in Penticton must be full before the Winnipeg St. shelter is used.
While the facility can accommodate over 70 persons, staff consider the 42 person limit appropriate.
The city’s current main emergency shelter at Compass House will still be operating all winter with 30 year-round shelter beds. Staff expect the 42 additional beds will meet the community’s need.
Last year an average of 65 to 75 people were sheltered each night through the winter in Penticton, according to city staff’s report.
The 42 beds does not include the 20 beds referred to by city staff as “isolation pods” that are set aside for COVID-19 isolation at Victory Church.
The shelter will also require “appropriate,” 24-hour staffing and security. City staff would also require communication to be sent to the neighbouring properties from BC Housing indicating their plans for the property.
All existing shelters in Penticton must also remain operational during the winter months, with no consolidation of shelter services to the Winnipeg St. location, as per staff’s proposal.
BC Housing and Penticton and District Society for Community Living found the Winnipeg St. location most suitable after researching other spaces in Penticton. They are requesting a temporary permit for a six-month period.
City staff plan to recommend that council allow the six-month permit. If BC Housing sees a need to keep the shelter operational longer than six-months, the situation will be re-evaluated and submitted to staff for a subsequent review.
Penticton council will hear staff’s recommendation during the Tuesday, Oct. 6 council meeting.