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Downtown Kelowna cold-weather homeless facility to open as temperatures plummet

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New homeless facility to be opened mid-December – Dec 3, 2019

A temporary homeless shelter will open in Kelowna’s downtown core this month.

The warming shelter will be located at 555 Fuller Ave., or beside the Royal Canadian Legion branch along Doyle Avenue.

The city made the announcement Tuesday morning, in conjunction with BC Housing, Journey Home and the John Howard Society of Okanagan and Kootenay.

The John Howard Society will operate the facility, which is expected to open in mid-December.

READ MORE: Province identifies site in West Kelowna for temporary winter shelter

The building will be renovated immediately, according to BC Housing, and will feature 40 short-term beds with around-the-clock supports, meals, washrooms and amenity space.

“It’s really up to the local government to identify the location and we work with them around the suitability of the property,” Shayne Ramsay, chief executive officer for BC Housing, told Global News.

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“In this case, 555 Fuller Avenue worked well to locate a 40-bed, temporary housing project.”

However, people will not be lining up to be admitted on a daily basis, according to BC Housing.

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The Fuller Avenue location will be bridge housing, which means people will need to apply to live there. They will be assessed based on eligibility requirements such as income, homelessness, and required housing supports and programming.

“The goal is to help people stabilize their lives and assist them with obtaining and maintaining housing while waiting for the long-term housing to become available,” according to the letter.

Moving people into bridge housing is expected to help free up shelter space, BC Housing said.

The facility is expected to open in mid-December and will be operated by the John Howard Society.

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READ MORE: Kelowna’s overnight tent sites inadequate, homeless people say

The Fuller Avenue location will close on March 31, according to BC Housing.

The letter said drugs will be permitted onsite, stating, “if we exclude people with substance use issues, they would remain on the street with deteriorating health.”

However, it added drug consumption will be allowed “only in a designated area that would be monitored by staff and require safe-disposal of needles.

“Although we anticipate most drug-use will happen inside the housing, the society would be sweeping the streets daily for garbage as a courtesy to neighbours.”

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