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Extreme Weather shelter in Lower Mainland sees highest number of unhoused people during snow storm

Some unhoused people have jobs, but cost of living is too high for shelter, says organization
White Rock’s extreme weather shelter had a busy night as they supported people in the community experiencing homelessness to have a safe and warm place to take shelter in. (Engaged Communities/Twitter video screenshot)

White Rock’s extreme weather shelter for people experiencing homelessness “jumped up in numbers drastically” during Tuesday (Nov. 29) night’s snow storm, including people who have steady jobs but are still unable to afford a house to reside in or food to eat.

Located at 14600 North Bluff Rd. the extreme weather shelter operated by Engaged Communities Canada Society serves as a day- and night-time refuge for people who do not have access to a shelter to escape the cold, as well as offering access to counselling, emergency medical care and warm food and clothing.

Recent days have seen a steady increase in the volume of people visiting the shelter, Upkar Tatlay, founder of ECCS told Peace Arch News, adding previous nights were nothing compared Tuesday.

Some spent hours at the shelter getting well-needed sleep before heading back outdoors, while others would stop by the shelter intermittently.

“It was good to get people in, get them heated up, get them warm and get them hopefully more stabilized than they would’ve been,” Tatlay said.

According to a recent count conducted by White Rock RCMP, the number of unhoused people in White Rock stands at about 26, which is similar to the estimated number of people the shelter saw Tuesday night.

On top of the cold-weather hazards faced by the vulnerable community, some people arrived at the warming shelter with untreated injuries.

“You can imagine when you’re stuck outside and you have an infection you’re contending with, ‘where do I get my next meal? Where do I stay warm? How do I stay protected? Oh, and by the way, I have an infection,’” Tatlay said.

They were able to help one man in particular who came to the group with an infection.

“He’s been able to go to his appointment at the hospital every day now to receive his medications and see his doctor and his hand infection has cleared up.”

The demographic of people the shelter helps has noticeably changed since last year’s winter.

“We saw it last year but nowhere near how we’re seeing this year people who have jobs, they just don’t have a shelter… or food to eat. The cost of living has gotten so high that there are people who have gainful employment but it’s not enough,” Tatlay said.

Now, ECCS also helps people get clothing for work along with the other supports of food, counselling, medical treatment and warm clothing.

For those who have food (dairy products are needed) or clothing items to spare, residents are welcome to stop by the shelter (14600 North Bluff Rd.) and knock on the office door with donations or send an email for more details.

The needs of the unhoused community mostly are “anything that an individual would need when they’re outside of our facility to make sure that, in the gap (between) when they leave and (when) we see them again, that there’s not too much damage because of the cold weather,” Tatlay said.


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Sobia Moman

About the Author: Sobia Moman

Sobia Moman is a news and features reporter with the Peace Arch News.
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