Update: New shelter for homeless men and women set to open doors July 10

A homeless shelter, plans for which previously stirred up neighbours, is set to open its doors on Wednesday.

The 36-bed shelter, at 12040 Horseshoe Way in Ironwood, will help meet the immediate needs of Richmond’s most vulnerable residents, according to the City of Richmond. 

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The Richmond News reported two years ago that the site would replace a smaller, 10-bed, men-only shelter run by the Salvation Army on Shell Road, after that location received an eviction notice.

The new facility will be inclusive to men and women, said Kim Decker, spokesperson for the City of Richmond.

She added that the city recognized that people at risk of homelessness are both men and women and “we want this shelter to accommodate both and more (people)."

The new shelter, also being run by the Salvation Army, will be staffed around the clock and have hot showers, three meals a day including a hot dinner and is pet-friendly.

Of the 36 beds, 20 are for men, 10 for women and six are flex beds, which can be assigned to couples or people who are ill.

The city-owned building, purchased in August 2017 for $6 million, was a “shell of a warehouse” at the time of purchase, said Decker.

B.C. Housing contributed $5.7 million to turn the building into a liveable space.

Almost two years ago, the News reported how businesses close to the new location protested the planned shelter, citing safety and security concerns, plus a lack of public consultation by the city.

The Salvation Army’s shelter manager, Maj. Kathie Chiu, said two years ago that the Shell Road shelter never had any major complaints and had no crime issues.

“It’s been my experience that some homeless people are experiencing mental illness; they can be scary sometimes, but generally speaking, the people in our shelter are there based on criteria of behaviour,” said Chiu at the time.

According to Decker, the Salvation Army hosted a community advisory committee that acted as a forum to address any concerns about the shelter.

Locating the shelter in the neighbourhood also prompted improvements to the area, said Decker, including sidewalks along Horseshoe Way and a pedestrian crossing at Machrina Way.

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