The Executive Director of the Quesnel Shelter & Support Society says they are at capacity at Seasons House, even with the 10 temporary cold weather spaces that the province has just announced.
Melany MacDonald says the funding for those 10 beds is something they get every year, and while it is appreciated, she says it is certainly not enough as they are currently turning people away.
“We have been in conversation with BC Housing about the need for an additional warming space in the community. Our facility doesn’t have the space for it, especially with COVID and the need to social distance folks, just a space to have beds and sleep people.”
MacDonald says it’s difficult to say how many additional beds would be needed, as she says the last homeless count was almost two years ago.
“It was a one day snapshot. And during that one day snapshot we counted 121 people. So that number we can guess is likely higher. In total, Seasons House provides, with those extreme weather spaces, 25 beds.”
MacDonald says what makes nailing down a number even more difficult is that all of the individuals in that count aren’t necessarily street homeless at that given time.
“Some people are housed precariously or they are couch surfing. During colder weather family or friends might be more keen to take folks in, so I would say as far as our population of people who are outdoors right now, and this is a guess, I would think that we would need to see another 10 to 20 spaces open for cold weather.”
MacDonald says additional beds would have to be found in other parts of the community, as she says there simply isn’t any more room at Seasons House.
“Potentially I think that cold weather spaces have been operated in hotels, they’ve been operated by different non profits in halls and gymnasiums, they are operated by churches in some communities, so it really depends on the community and who is willing and able to provide that service.”
MacDonald says Quesnel is a very generous community and she says one thing that people can do to help is to donate certain items for people that are out in the cold.
“What’s needed right now by organizations who work with vulnerable populations is donations of new or gently used winter wear, blankets, food of course always, socks is a number one donation that is needed.”
MacDonald says those interested in helping out can call Seasons House at 991-0222 to make arrangements to make a donation.