A homeless man (Malcolm Garret, pexels.com)
Brent Hobden wants the homeless to come out of the cold and into Courtenay’s shelter.
The Salvation Army community ministries director said there is space available at the Pidcock House shelter at 632 Pidcock Ave.
The province has supplied the local Salvation Army shelter with 20 emergency cold weather beds this year.
And while Hobden said this cold snap has brought in more people than normal, those beds are not full.
“So we still have space if there are people that are trying to brave the weather outside,” he said. “It would be great for people to let our friends who are homeless know that there is space at the Salvation Army shelter and we would love to have them come to visit us for a night.”
The Extreme Weather Response Plan is in place.
Hobden said these additional beds will be available “for at least the next 10 days.”
He said there is “a significant number” of the community’s homeless don’t use the EWR program.
“I don’t know if it’s because of a lack of awareness or whether it’s a mental health issue,” he said.
“It could be just a case that they prefer sleeping outside. I think the crux of the matter is it’s not healthy for them, and we need to do whatever we possibly can as a community to urge our less fortunate people to pop into the Salvation Army emergency shelter, so they can have a couple of warm meals and a warm place to sleep.”
There isn’t a cut off time, even though most people are in the shelter by 9:00pm.
Whenever the Extreme Weather Response is activated, there is 24/7 access at the shelter.
“If they show up at 11 o’clock at night, we welcome them in, we give them a place to sleep and then we get them up in the morning and give them a breakfast and try to meet their needs for the day,” Hobden said.