23
December
2021
|
09:46 AM
America/Los_Angeles

Shelters change lives in Kamloops

Kamloops shelter

In 2011, Daniel moved to Kamloops for work. Now, after losing his job to COVID-19, Daniel is homeless. Rising rents have made it difficult to find a new home.

“The housing market is wild. You can’t afford anything right now,” Daniel says. “It’s my first time being homeless.”

Daniel uses a shelter run by the Kamloops branch of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Without the shelter, Daniel says he’d be “sleeping outside” and “likely dead.”

Cherish is another Kamloops resident who uses a shelter. As someone living with addiction, having a safe place to sleep is crucial for her well-being.

"When I’m in a shelter, I actually sleep. I’m not scared every night. I can relax and take proper care of myself,” Cherish says.

Staff are on site around the clock to provide support. This often includes helping clients apply for longer-term housing or addiction and mental health services.

Now that Cherish has a safe place to sleep, she can look forward to using the available services.

“I really want to get better,” Cherish says. “The resources are there for me when I’m ready.”

Daniel, on the other hand, wants to find longer-term housing. He’s grateful for the personal support he’s already received.

“The staff prevented me from breaking down so many times. I can’t thank them enough for that,” Daniel says.

While shelters provide much needed services in Kamloops, not everyone who needs a shelter can use one.

The last Point-in-Time count, completed in April 2021, found at least 206 people experiencing homelessness in Kamloops. However, there’s only 127 shelter spaces in the city, all of which are full.

With freezing winter temperatures, shelter is a life and death issue.

“If shelters weren’t here, I’d be living outside in the winter. I’d freeze to death,” Daniel said.

BC Housing is working with the City of Kamloops to open three new shelters by early 2022, which will provide over 100 spaces.

Managed by CMHC, the shelters will offer safe, dignified environments. Clients will have access to daily meals and hygiene facilities in addition to a warm bed and supports.

For Daniel and Cherish, the benefits of shelters are clear. They both look forward to their futures.

“I really want to get clean and healthy,” Cherish says. “I want to get my family back and get my life back.”

“I want a place for my family to get back together,” Daniel says. “I need to get back on my feet, and without these services it would be impossible.”

BC Housing’s goal is to connect people with secure, affordable housing, which is why we have over 1,000 new homes complete or underway in Kamloops.