As the bone-chilling weather approaches, the City of Richmond and BC Housing are finding ways to make sure those without a home have a warm place to stay -- despite physical distancing restrictions.
This season, a total of 85 shelter spaces have been made available in Richmond, which includes 15 temporary emergency spaces that have been added to the Salvation Army’s emergency shelter expansion on Nov. 1, according to Matthew Borghese, spokesperson for BC Housing.
These temporary spaces provide shelter for people during extreme weather events such as “significant rain, wind and freezing temperatures.”
Borghese told the Richmond News that emergency shelters in Richmond and across the province had to reduce spaces earlier this year in order to meet physical distancing requirements, but BC Housing has been continuously looking for more shelter spaces.
“In communities where there is a need for additional shelter spaces, we are working with our partners to see what other shelter or temporary housing options might be available,” said Borghese.
“This includes leasing sites that can also support the needs of a winter shelter and still provide space for those needing to self-isolate.”
Meanwhile, there are also 40 spaces available as part of the Richmond Emergency Response Centre (ERC) at the former Minoru Place Activity Centre compared to the same period of last year where there were only15 extreme weather response shelter spaces in city.
Plans for the Minoru Place Activity Centre to be renovated into an arts and cultural building have been put on hold until the end of March as it was deemed the ERC meets a current need, explained city spokesperson Clay Adams.
The extension to the end of March is in anticipation of another wave of COVID-19 in the fall and winter.
The shelter is funded by BC Housing and is being run by Turning Point Recovery Society.
The city is providing the space for the ERC while Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for health-related services and referrals.
BC Housing, added Borghese, is also providing homelessness prevention rent supplements to 24 households in Richmond that are with the Chimo Community Services Society.
-With files from Maria Rantanen, Richmond News