The White Rock First United Church extreme weather shelter is consistently servicing a higher-than-average number of homeless people over the bulk of the holiday season.
The shelter, which has been open for the majority of December, is proving to show its need in the White Rock community, says Lori Dennis, deputy executive director of Options BC.
“We anticipate the EWR (extreme weather response) shelters to remain open for the foreseeable future due to the weather,” Dennis said by email.
The extreme weather shelter – which operates on a mixture of volunteers and Options BC staff – opens on a judgement call made by Options. Temperature, high winds, and precipitation are all factors considered in the decision.
Environment Canada is predicting a mix of rain and sun for the next five days, with overnight temperatures floating in the 2ºC to -9ºC range.
“Big thank you to the volunteers who make it possible for us to shelter our neighbours. We would not be able to do so without the volunteers. Also, I would like to thank the staff who worked over the holidays,” Dennis said.
In previous winters, the shelter averages five people per night.
This month, the shelter has been servicing more than 11 people per night, with at least one night servicing 16 people.
The capacity of the shelter is 15 people.
“The EWR does not turn anyone away,” Dennis said.
Number of homeless people that have used the shelter over the holiday period.
Dec. 22: 10 men, two women
Dec. 23: 9 men, two women
Dec. 24: eight men, two women
Dec. 25: 11 men, three women
Dec. 26: 11 men, three women