The provincial government has extended the leases of the Richter Street and Doyle Avenue shelters for people experiencing homelessness.
“Too many people are sleeping in parks, on sidewalks, and in doorways in our province. We need to do better,” said David Eby, attorney general, and minister responsible for housing. “Part of that work means having emergency shelter spaces open so that people can access basic services and find their feet, and we can help them get back into housing as it opens.”
Eby added he was grateful to Kelowna for their work and partnership in helping the province respond to the housing crisis faced by far too many British Columbians. The shelter at 1083 Richter Street has operated 50 beds since opening in January 2021. The lease was set to expire at the end of this month, though BC Housing, Turning Points Collaborative Society, and the City of Kelowna, have signed a lease extension to continue offering shelter services until March 31, 2023.
“As we slowly come out of the pandemic, we see the need for shelter services in Kelowna is greater than ever,” said Randene Wejr, executive director, Turning Points Collaborative Society. “The poisoned opioid crisis continues to plague us, and affordable housing stock is almost non-existent. Turning Points will continue to work on long-term solutions for housing while providing services and supports for anyone at risk of homelessness in our community.”
BC Housing also has an agreement to extend the lease for the 60-bed shelter at 550 Doyle Avenue. It too was set to expire at the end of March but has been extended until June 30. The additional three months will give BC Housing and the City of Kelowna more time to find new shelter locations. Kelowna’s Gospel Mission will continue to operate the shelter through the remainder of the lease.
“We are grateful beyond words for the opportunity to continue to provide safe shelter and community for those in our care past March 31,” said Carmen Rempel, executive director, Kelowna’s Gospel Mission. “Anxieties have run high this past month as our residents have been preparing to sleep outside. They will be relieved to hear that they will still have a warm bed come April 1.”
The shelter at the Unitarian Church was opened to provide temporary winter spaces for people and will close on March 31 as planned.
“We are grateful for the hard work that BC Housing and our local shelter operators continue to do to ensure everyone in our city has a safe place to sleep,” said Sue Wheeler, social development manager at the City of Kelowna. “It takes an entire community working together to ensure that our vulnerable residents’ needs are met.”
BC Housing is also hoping to extend the leases at multiple hotels in Kelowna that are providing supported indoor spaces for 82 people.