Penticton’s homeless population has grown and the community’s shelters are already at capacity for the start of winter.
Last winter, in a similar situation, the city opened up the former Victory Church as a shelter due to the need for more beds.
At the moment, the Penticton and District Society for Community Living, which operates Compass House and the Victory Church shelter on behalf of B.C. Housing, has 72 beds that have been kept full during the pandemic, and another eight individuals are currently staying in the shelters, according to PDSCL CEO Tony Laing.
“We are in the process of expanding to a total of 90 beds to accommodate more people as winter sets in and during a extreme cold snap we could make some more beds available short term,” Laing said in an email.
Previously, the Penticton Church of the Nazarene opened up as an extreme weather response shelter, which provided up to 20 additional spaces during a cold snap. That space was used as a shelter as recently as February, 2021.
The homeless population has continued to increase through the pandemic, in part exacerbated by the tight rental market.
A total of 114 people, were identified as experiencing homelessness compared to 108 in 2018, stated BC Housing in April when a count was conducted in Penticton.
The by-name list of the homeless population in Penticton that was requested by the city’s council is still being built according to Laing, and once it is finished it will help to provide better information for responding to the homelessness crisis.
Laing encouraged all residents in Penticton to support organizations that are working to end homelessness this holiday season, and throughout the rest of the year.
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