(Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

(Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Cold weather shelters opening in Vernon, West Kelowna

Turning Points Collaborative has a number of programs and services for those facing homelessness this winter

Vernon’s Turning Points Collaborative Society is preparing for the cold weather with a number of services for those who find themselves without a roof over their head.

Turning Points is working with BC Housing to establish a new Winter Response Interim Housing program which will operate out of the currently vacant Our Place facility on 43rd Street. The space will provide 13 rooms for independent singles or couples to transition from shelter. The program will provide meals and access to showers and support services, while freeing up more space at Turning Points’ temporary shelter.

The program will focus on case planning and support for clients to move into their own housing, and is expected to run from now until March 31, 2022 with funding from BC Housing’s temporary winter shelter program.

“We really wanted to focus on how we could offer more individual rooms with some supports instead of a winter response mat program that we have operated in the past,” said Turning Points executive director Randene Wejr. “We have learned very clearly during the pandemic that many of the folks that use our services really are able to maintain more independent housing than living in a congregate shelter. This is another great example of us partnering with BC Housing to provide the next step in the housing continuum for our clients.”

Vernon’s existing amalgamated 86-bed shelter on 37th Street will continue to operate through winter to provide temporary shelter for those experiencing homelessness. In the case of an extreme weather event, Turning Points will put additional shelter measures in place to ensure people can come inside.

The organization also operates a motel program which helps provide rooms and other support needs for people in immediate need of housing.

READ MORE: Clothing drive keeps Vernon’s homeless warm

The City of Vernon has committed to 30 additional rooms over the winter for this program, which will help alleviate pressure at the shelter.

Other programs are in place to ensure folks living rough have what they need to get through winter. In Vernon, Vernon Entrenched People Against Discrimination (VEPAD) is doing a coat and blanket drive. Turning Points will collect donated items at the Cammy LaFleur clinic at 2800-33rd Street over the next couple of weeks, and the VEPAD team will ensure they are distributed to people most in need.

In West Kelowna, Turning Points’ outreach team is working closely with the Westbank Salvation Army to provide winter gear, blankets, gloves, mittens, hand warmers and tents to those experiencing homelessness. Donations can go directly to the Westbank Salvation Army location.

Also in West Kelowna, a temporary shelter on Bartley Road is expected to open once construction is complete. Funded by BC Housing, the shelter will increase the Turning Points’ current capacity from the 16 spaces at the previous Churchill Road site up to 38 spaces.

In Kelowna, the temporary shelter on Richter Street will be adding 11 shelter spaces for the winter through BC Housing’s temporary winter shelter funding program.

READ MORE: Trying to survive the streets of Penticton

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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