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B.C. invests $3.1M to keep Vancouver winter shelters open year-round

Calls for year-round shelters
WATCH: Calls for year-round shelters

The B.C. government is investing $3.1 million to keep temporary winter shelters in Vancouver open for the next 12 months.

A release from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said the move will make sure homeless people have access to nearly 240 beds at facilities that would have otherwise been closed on March 31 of this year.

The ministry said the money invested will go towards operating funds at eight temporary shelters in Vancouver, now keeping them open until March 31, 2020.

According to the release, the city’s homelessness outreach team will make sure people who use the shelters have access to income assistance, health supports and housing.

READ MORE: Vancouver council to vote on keeping winter homeless shelters open year-round

The investment comes after a motion introduced in Vancouver’s city council on Feb. 26 by Coun. Jean Swanson.

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Swanson said last week that people who are forced out of shelters when they’re closed have nowhere to go and that all residents deserve a warm, safe place that will keep them healthy year-round.

Swanson added that she happened to be visiting a shelter a few years ago, right when it was about to close for the season.

“People were crying. They were saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ (A) lot of them were sick, had cancer, had heart issues, they were elderly, and yeah, it’s really tough,” Swanson said.

READ MORE: Advocates applaud opening of four warming stations in Burnaby

She added that permanent housing is cheaper than running shelters and is the first thing on her wish list. The newly announced shelter funding is a temporary measure, Swanson said.

The province’s release Tuesday reinforces the need for permanent affordable housing.

“While access to shelter is critical to ensure the safety of those experiencing homelessness, the province and city remain committed to delivering more affordable housing to meet the need of people in Vancouver,” reads the release.