The Salvation Army shelter in Maple Ridge has reduced the number of emergency shelter beds it offers this winter by half.
The Caring Place will only have 15 cold-wet weather spaces available until the end of March, in addition to the existing 25 beds it has year-round.
The reduction isn’t prompted by a cut in funding, but a drop in demand.
“Because of the numbers over the years, we’ve actually felt the need to reduce the beds we would need this year,” said executive director Darrell Pilgrim.
“We’ve always offered 30 beds, but very rarely do we go up over 20 beds needed every night.”
Pilgrim said it’s difficult to pinpoint why demand has dropped since the people who use the Sally Ann’s services are transient.
“We do want to believe it is because people have found appropriate housing,” he said.
“It’s great to see. There is still demand and need, but we believe the numbers of actual people looking for shelter every night has reduced.”
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows were the only municipalities in Metro Vancouver, though, where the number of people without a roof over their heads increased during the 2011 Greater Vancouver Homeless Count, a survey conducted every three years.
One hundred and two people were found homeless in March 2011. That was up from 90 in 2008.
Of the 102 – 40 were housed in emergency shelter facilities, while one person was listed as having no fixed address.
The municipalities were the only place in Metro Vancouver where the number of street homeless also rose – to 61 from 40.
The Caring Place still serves more than 600 different people monthly and overall demand for services, such as meals, is not dropping.
“There are still people looking for assistance. The people living in poverty, however is actually increasing,” Pilgrim added.
“I always say I wish I could close my doors. I wish we didn’t need to exist.”
The Caring Place is in dire need for new socks and underwear for men and women, as well as shampoo.
Their school bagged lunch program, which serves 110 students at 12 schools, needs luncheon meat and healthy snacks.
• To donate call 463-8296.
Kettle season starts next Friday, Nov. 16. Lots of volunteers are needed for a two-hour shifts. To volunteer, call Amy at 604-463-8296 x 104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.