Some of Kelowna’s homeless to get housing as winter shelter closes for good

B.C. Housing has secured an extension for the Inn from the Cold shelter in Kelowna. B.C., so that people sleeping there have a place to stay until a new supportive housing facility is ready to accept residents.  

Inn from the Cold has been trying to find a new location since the non-profit society learned last summer the building it operates in is to be demolished.

The shelter was set to close this week, but B.C. Housing arranged for an extension for the 43-bed shelter until a 40-unit supportive housing facility on Harvey Avenue named Heath House is ready for occupancy later this month.

“We’ve a really good working relationship with the developer that is going to do the new development there. They are also concerned about the people [staying at the shelter], said B.C. Housing regional director Ann Howard.

Inn from the Cold is still looking for a new location in which to operate its winter shelter. (Inn from the Cold-Kelowna/Facebook)

About a dozen of the people currently sleeping at Inn from the Cold will go to Heath House, said Howard.

B.C. Housing is working with social agencies in Kelowna to find places for the remaining clients.

The temporary extension at Inn from the Cold is welcome news for people who advocate for the city’s homeless.

“We were kind of looking at each other and going, ‘you know, we are full. Everybody’s full and what are we going to do?'” said Randy Benson, executive director of the Kelowna Gospel Mission which runs a 90-bed homeless shelter.

“The area shelters are doing absolutely everything we can. The fact that Inn from the Cold is staying open for January certainly takes that pressure off.” 

‘Their own home’

People moving into Heath House will have their own rooms and access to a range of services including health and wellness counselling and job training.

Last fall, a similar supportive housing project called Hearthstone opened in Kelowna and welcomed 51 residents.

“There is nothing more important, I think, in people’s lives than having their own home — having a place that they can sleep safely every night and not have to worry about others around them,” said Howard. 

Inn from the Cold is still looking for a new location to run its shelter, said Howard.

The non-profit society’s executive director, Jan Schulz, declined comment.

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