Merry Christmas at city’s shelter

Mostly at capacity since opening Oct. 1, starts to wind down in new year

The shelter has been operating mostly at capacity since opening Oct. 1

They’re doing the hard work of welcoming street entrenched and hard-core drug addicted, people who’ve lived such a way for years, and somehow turning their lives around in a few months at the Maple Ridge temporary shelter.

And success isn’t always a sure thing.

So it feels good when the community at large gives you get some gestures of appreciation for what you do.

“From the local community, we’ve had people continue to drop off donations of clothing and other supplies, warm blankets and things like that,” said Sean Spear, with Rain City Housing, which runs the shelter at 22239 Lougheed Hwy.

The shelter opened Oct. 1 to accommodate some of the 60 or so people who had been camping on Cliff Avenue behind the Salvation Army’s Caring Place.

There’s been lots of support from the community for the sometimes controversial shelter. People are also bringing in Christmas decorations to brighten up the former furniture store.

“We really hope that continues over the holidays. We would appreciate any further support over the holidays. It can be certainly a tough time to be in a shelter.

“It is actually very appreciated to have that acknowledgement. To have people specifically say that they just want to help out, in whatever way.”

Donations of snacks, hot chocolate and baked goods also help out a lot, to bridge the gap between meal times.

The shelter trucks in its meals twice a day from Rain City Housing’s triage kitchen in Vancouver.

On Christmas Day, a turkey dinner will be on the menu.

Spear said he’s pleased with the system in which food is brought to the shelter two times a day to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“The way that we’re transporting it, I was really impressed that it travels that well.”

But Rain City is opening a new kitchen in the 3030 Gordon project in Coquitlam, which could cut travel time if that new facility is used to provide meals.

Spear said the Maple Ridge shelter mostly has been at capacity since it opened.

But in the new year, the focus will turn to the March 31 closing day, which means finding housing for the 40 people now residing there.

“That truly becomes a very targeted focus over the last little while.”

Spear said, so far, about 20 people at the shelter have been found housing.

Others have also been referred to other shelters in the area, he pointed out.

“It’s definitely, exceeding the 40-bed capacity – the demand.”

Last year, Rain City found homes for 90 people in Vancouver, but that happened at time when more social housing became available.

“It’s definitely a challenge. It’s a pretty tough grind out there finding housing. There’s definitely a lack of housing.”

 

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