Those looking for shelter at Warmland House may soon find that option limited as Warmland cuts capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

Those looking for shelter at Warmland House may soon find that option limited as Warmland cuts capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

Warmland House in Duncan cutting back on shelter beds due to COVID

Decision a safety precaution during pandemic

Due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Warmland House shelter on Lewis Street is reducing the number of people it can take in each night.

Executive director Lise Haddock said BC Housing, which provides funding for the shelter and its programs, has instructed Warmland to reduce the number of people it takes in each night from 15 to a maximum of 12.

She also said that while the shelter is beginning its annual extreme weather program, the number of beds BC Housing is allowing this winter is eight extreme-weather beds, down from the usual 15.

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN VALLEY SHELTERS FILLING UP AS WINTER COLD TAKES HOLD

“Due to COVID-19 protocols, we are not able to provide the required space between people at our regular numbers,” Haddock said.

“We’re trying to accommodate as may people as we can, but BC Housing is responding cautiously during the pandemic, and we want to keep our clients and staff as safe as possible.”

BC Housing is encouraged that our shelter operators are adhering to BC Government COVID-19 guidelines. Due to COVID-19, shelters in Duncan and across the province have reduced spaces to meet health and safety physical distancing requirements. These COVID-19 guidelines are also in place throughout the 2020/2021 winter shelter season.

A statement from BC Housing confirmed the reductions of available beds at Warmland House, and other shelters across the province due to the ongoing health pandemic.

But the statement said that, new this year, BC Housing has leased 34 hotel spaces in Duncan that are available for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.

“These sites were not available prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and are currently all occupied,” the statement said.

“BC Housing continues to explore options with our partners, as we do in all communities, to increase capacity to support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Early next year, construction is expected to begin on two new permanent supportive housing projects in Duncan with a capacity of approximately 100 units.”

Warmland is designed to be a gateway to stable housing and integrated, client focused support services to adult men and women who are coping with a variety of challenges, such as mental illness, addiction and chronic health conditions.

Haddock said the shelter is currently running at capacity, but there are no line ups for spaces at night at this time.

“We’re not the only shelter that BC Housing has cut back service due to the pandemic, and a cold snap will likely come soon that will see an increase in demand for services,” she said.

“We’re hoping that other groups in the community will come up with shelter beds if necessary.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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