Vancouver opens warming shelters to homeless

Jesse Day / January 9th 2018

Vancouver is doing what it can to house homeless during the cold months, but many people are still left out in the cold.
(Jesse Day / BCIT News)

As of March 2018, there were over 600 documented homeless people living on the streets of Vancouver.

As temperatures drop below freezing in Metro Vancouver this winter, the City has opened emergency warming shelters for the city’s homeless population.

In addition to four pre-existing homeless shelters, the City also opened three warming centers for people to leave their pets, bikes and carts.

This comes as Environment Canada issued a forecast for rain and wet snow.

“We have lots of people who are living outside, sleeping in very unsafe conditions. This is not something we want to see in our city. Clearly, there’s still a great need for shelter and housing.” – Abi Bond, City of Vancouver Managing Director of Homelessness Services and Affordable Housing

Bond says that the extreme weather response and warming shelters will always be an extra measure but the goal is to find long-term solutions to homelessness.

“Really our focus is looking to do more so that people have a home for the whole year. If you’re able to provide someone with a home, shelter, and support, then they are really able to move on from the challenges they’re facing and make good decisions for the future.” Abi Bond, City of Vancouver Managing Director of Homelessness Services and Affordable Housing

Community centers and other public buildings are also available during their opening hours as spaces where people can catch a break from the cold.

The Overdose Prevention Society at 58 East Hastings Street is also extending its hours to operate from 11:00 pm to 8:00 am on the nights that the warming centers are activated.

Last year, around 100 people used the City’s warming centers each night.

Since 2009, the City has partnered with the Province to open additional shelter space for the winter months. This year, nearly 300 temporary beds are available. The Province also opens extreme weather response shelters in Vancouver when the temperature drops to 0 degrees. Anyone who is in need of a warm place to stay can call 2-1-1 to check the shelters availabilities.