Salt Spring Island has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness over recent years, so now the province is stepping in to help the community provide year-round shelter and services to those who need it.
Starting on November 1, the shelter operated by Salt Spring Island Community Services on Fulford-Ganges Road will be open overnight from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. all year.
It provides 30 overnight beds, access to laundry and showers and two meals a day, and had operated at full capacity between November 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019.
“This is a most welcome and much-needed advancement of services for Salt Spring Island,” said Rob Grant, executive director, SSICS.
“The community and our elected officials have been very active in making it known to the Province that Salt Spring has a very significant homeless population and more services are required. It is to the credit of BC Housing that they have acknowledged that and recognized the need here.”
The 2018 Point-In-Time Homeless Count found a total of 131 homeless individuals on Salt Spring, including 89 who were classified as “unsheltered” when the emergency shelter was closed between April and November.
“Housing challenges experienced in communities across British Columbia are magnified on the Southern Gulf Islands,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.
The province is providing approximately $720,000 to allow the shelter to extend operations.
“People experiencing homelessness on Salt Spring deserve to have a safe, warm place to go year-round,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.