Vancouver’s homeless population is in need of shelter as winter approaches

Maria Vinca / November 26, 2019

The cold weather is hitting hard on Vancouver’s homeless populaton .
(Chris Burke /Flickr)

With temperatures dropping in the Lower Mainland, the homeless population in Vancouver is seeking shelter in order to survive, according to a local homeless advocate.

Rachael Allen, spokesperson with Union Gospel Mission says, people that live on the streets are at greater risk of Hypothermia, Frostbite and Pneumonia.

Union Gospel Mission rescue crews go out to different locations throughout the Lower Mainland  giving out blankets, socks, sleeping bags and other items for people to keep warm.

“It’s even a a life or death type of thing, if people can’t warm up they’re at risk of dying during these cold winter months” – Rachael Allen, Spokesperson for UGM

Although the city of Vancouver has opened up several emergency homeless shelters for the winter, there is still a great number of people who are left without homes.

According to the city, there are over 2000 registered homeless people in Vancouver with 614 of those living on the street.

The Homelessness Services Association of BC, has successfully opened up four new temporary homeless shelters for this winter.

According to Allen, people that sleep in tents or wooded areas and those use candles or burners to keep warm, are at risk of their belongings catching fire.

using candles or burners to keep warm in a tent is very dangerous for homeless people
(Flickr/ w.d.worden)

“Or if they’re in there they could be caught on fire and die just by trying to keep warm for the night. So that’s scary for them and concerning for us” – Rachael Allen, Spokesperson for UGM

The city also opens extreme weather response shelters when alerts are issued by BC’s Homelessness Services Association. These shelters open when temperatures drop below zero with heavy rain, snow and high winds.