Demand for extreme-weather-shelter beds has been high throughout Surrey, and the Semiahmoo Peninsula is no exception.
On two occasions since opening last Friday (Nov. 13), officials at the Peace Portal Alliance Church site have had to turn clients away after reaching capacity, Options Community Services’ Allan Berger – assistant manager of Hyland House – told Peace Arch News Thursday (Nov. 19).
The site, at 15128 27B Ave., was already one over its 14-bed allotment in each of those instances, which occurred on Nov. 15 and Nov. 17, she noted.
The church was announced in May as a temporary shelter for the homeless during the pandemic. In October, a City of Surrey corporate report identified it as one of just five extreme-weather shelters lined up for all of Surrey and White Rock for the fall and winter season. Nine such shelters operated in the 2019-2020 season.
During May/June, the temporary shelter averaged between eight and 10 people per night.
In the past week, as many as 15 clients have been welcomed inside the church, and a total of 71 clients have accessed the shelter since it opened.
Berger noted that the Cloverdale shelter – at Pacific Community Church – with 37 clients through its doors since opening night, reached a high of 11 clients on Nov. 17, but has not had to turn anyone away. In Ladner, one person was turned away on Nov. 12 and another on Nov. 16, after the six-client limit was reached.
“While we do unfortunately have to turn away clients, we are still able to offer them a meal, clothing, resources and at two of our sites a warm shower before they are asked to leave,” Berger added.
Last week, the co-ordinator of Surrey’s extreme-weather response (EWR) operations appealed to Surrey city council to help find more spaces for the program. The appeal was made Nov. 9, more than a week after the EWR program had officially kicked off, yet no beds had been opened.
The shelter at Peace Portal Alliance Church is open seven days a week, from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. nightly, through to March 31.
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