A segment of Vernon’s homeless population is without a place to stay after a makeshift camp was dismantled in town last week.
The camp was located at the very end of Polson Park, along the railroad tracks. A photo posted to the Dawn Tucker – Community Advocate Facebook page shows heavy equipment clearing out the camp, which saw a fire break out the week previous.
It is unclear how many people lived at the encampment, or where most of them are living now that the camp is gone is gone.
Randene Wejr, executive director of Turning Points Collaborative Society, says two individuals who lived at the camp have obtained temporary housing through one of the society’s motel programs, but the rest of the camp occupants are unaccounted for.
Turning Points’ shelter is operating at capacity, and Wejr says that has been the case for close to two years.
“We do turn aways every night unfortunately,” Wejr said.
“It’s a housing issue, I think that a lot of times people think that it’s not but the issue is there is no affordable housing,” Wejr continued.
“We have a lot of people living in shelters and temporary housing that could live in permanent housing if it was affordable, but we know that the rents have just skyrocketed in the last couple years, and it’s even middle class families that are finding it very difficult to find rental options in our city.”
Wejr says Turning Points’ outreach team touches base with people living rough daily, and when the temperature drops below -10 C with wind chill factored in, a warming bus is deployed around the city where people can come and warm up.
She says Turning Points always welcomes donations of gloves, mittens, socks, blankets and other warm items to give to the homeless population.
“Any of that kind of stuff to help people keep warm that are living outside is really crucial,” she said.