Emergency winter shelter in Penticton nearing capacity

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Emergency winter shelter in Penticton nearing capacity
Emergency winter shelter in Penticton nearing capacity – Nov 8, 2017

Penticton was hit with another blast of snow on Wednesday, but for transient John Edwards the snow can’t freeze his spirits.

“Just got to go with the flow and keep smiling,” he told Global News on Wednesday while throwing a tarp over his possessions on Main Street.

The 58-year-old has lived on the streets off and on for his entire life.

For Edwards, finding shelter is nearly impossible because he comes as a pair with his beloved pug bulldog Lola.

“Even the shelters don’t take people with animals, so you just go with the flow and that’s how you deal with life.”

Down the street a new low-barrier emergency winter shelter located at the former Super 8 motel on Main Street opened its doors last Wednesday, but they don’t accept pets.

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“What we try to do is we hook up with Critteraid and they will foster the dog while he is here,” said shelter manager Roger Evans.

The shelter operates from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. from November to March.

It’s funded through BC Housing and operated by the Salvation Army.

Twenty beds are reserved for men and seven for women.

The shelter is nearing capacity and all of the female beds are full.

“Seems to be a lot more women on the street now as well,” Evans said.

For people like 45-year-old Kathy Schuster, the warm bed and complimentary meals are a blessing.

Outreach workers say some women become so desperate during the winter months they will trade sex for shelter and even a winter coat.

“There are individuals that will have to trade sex to get a roof over their heads and no one should have to do that,” said Debbie Scarborough, the executive director of the South Okanagan Women In Need Society (SOWINS).

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Meanwhile local churches and non-profits are stepping up to distribute donations to the needy.

“The biggest need that we have right now is for new men’s underwear and women’s underwear,” said Pat Simons with the Saint Saviour’s Church, which operates a free store.

“We’re looking for very gently used coats and boots,” Scarborough said.

Those who have little say staying positive is what gets them through.

“Ya life, you just have to have a good attitude to get through!” Edwards quipped.

WATCH: Vernon man reaches out to homeless with blankets 


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