Soap and hot water in short supply for Lower Mainland homeless during coronavirus outbreak

Local non-profits are giving out hand wipes and sanitizer

The number one thing people have been asked to do to prevent coronavirus transmission is to wash their hands frequently.

How do you do that if you’re homeless?

“It’s really hard to even find a sink,” said Terry Gregorowich, who is living on Langley’s streets.

“I wash my hands as much as I can, at the shelter,” he noted.

But beyond that, homeless people don’t have access to bathrooms very often.

That’s one issue that the local homeless community and front line service workers are facing as the province tries to stem the tide of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“Warm soap and water is what you really want,” said paramedic Vince Ford, who works with Kimz Angels, a local non-profit that provides food, blankets, and basic supplies to people living on the streets in the area.

In the absence of that, Ford and Kimz Angels founder Kim Snow are providing hand wipes and sanitizer to their clients to help keep them as clean as possible.

Snow said that there’s a real shortage of places for the homeless to get thoroughly clean in the community.

“Where do they go to do that?” she said. “They have nowhere to go.”

READ MORE: Langley school district releases pandemic plan

READ MORE: Langley seniors centre takes precautions to prevent spread of virus

READ MORE: Langley preps for possible arrival of coronavirus

There are a handful of places the homeless can wash their hands, including overnight at the Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope homeless shelter, or during the day at a few alternatives, including some churches, public buildings, and outreach centres.

But there’s no drop in centre open daily to provide services like showers and laundry, Snow said. It’s something she’s been pushing for in Langley for some time.

The coronavirus has indirectly caused the temporary closure of some events at the Langley Friends Vineyard Church,

Pastor Leith White said the church is closing it’s Wednesday ministry activities, including its free store for homeless and low income people.

Instead of having a large number of people inside the church, the ministry will be going out to distribute food and goods in other ways.

“The next 30 days are really key days,” said White.

So far in Canada, there’s been no case of a homeless person diagnosed with the coronavirus, noted outreach worker Fraser Holland.

“I am hoping we don’t have to move past the awareness and prevention stages,” Holland said.

The Canadian Network for the Health and Housing of People Experience Homelessness is collecting resources to help front line workers prepare to respond to an outbreak.

Gregorowich isn’t too worried about his own health and safety yet, noting that as of Wednesday, there had only been one confirmed death from the coronavirus in B.C.

“It doesn’t seem like a big deal, really,” he said.

“At any time, it could go crazy,” he said a moment later.

CoronavirusHomelessnessLangley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford restaurant fundraiser supports moms and kids in Mexico

Brodeur’s Bistro donates proceeds on Aug. 17 to Casa de Luz charity

POLICE/2020: Street checks by police down in Abbotsford, but no plans to completely end them

Figures show street checks in Abbotsford relatively representative of city’s population

UPDATE: Arrest made in incident in which ‘agitated’ man pulled out knife on 3 people in Abbotsford

Police say 27-year-old man arrested after information received from public

Abbotsford Police warn that water-testing calls are a scam

Fraudulent messages say City of Abbotsford is offering free water-quality tests

Value Village robbed at knifepoint in Mission

Masked man makes off with cash, avoids police K9 units and escapes

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read