August 10, 2017 4:40 am

Downtown Eastside shelter spokesperson says privacy rules keep guests safe

Dane Tobias said finding her daughter in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside was frustrating.

Dane Tobias

After a parent told CKNW how tough it was to search for her drug-addicted daughter in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which was compounded by shelter privacy rules, shelters are saying they’re trying to protect the people staying with them.

“A lot of the time guests want anonymity because they don’t feel safe,” says Jeremy Hunka with the Union Gospel Mission.

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“Disclosing personal information could put guests in danger, especially if they’re being sought by someone who doesn’t have their best interests at heart.”

Hunka says family members looking for their loved ones should still approach shelters, who can let guests know their families are looking for them by leaving a photo, or a message.

READ MORE: A B.C. mom navigated a ‘fragmented’ system to find her opioid-addicted daughter on the DTES

“Generally, outreach workers will take that information with compassion, [they’ll] have their eye open for someone who’s being sought and if that person is around and willing, they’ll reach out and do what they can to reconcile.”

Hunka says it’s not just loving family members who look for people that have moved to the DTES.

“We’ll always say that we can’t confirm or deny [that person is there] but we will make an effort to give that guest, if they are staying here, a chance to respond.”

He warns pimps, drug dealers and others with a much darker agenda are known to do so as well, with some posing as friends or family.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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