Two new warming centres are set to open in Nanaimo in an effort to help people experiencing homelessness during the winter months.
The new centres – funded by United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island (UWCNVI) and the Government of Canada – are said to be “urgently needed” as more than 430 people are currently living unsheltered, according to the March 2020 Point in Time count.
The new warming centres in Nanaimo will be open from January 18 to March 31, according to UWCNVI. Each location will operate between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., providing space for 10 to 15 guests at a time.
“Offering hot drinks and snacks, the warming centres will provide a warm and safe space for people who need it most during the coldest months of the year,” said UWCNVI in a statement.
One centre will be located at 489 Wallace Street – operated by the Society for Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy – and will be open from Monday to Saturday.
The other centre will be located at 285 Prideaux Street – operated by 7-10 Club – and will be open seven days a week.
“We are grateful to help our vulnerable neighbours find a safe, warm, dry place to be during the day thanks to the federal government’s support and our local community service providers,” says Signy Madden, Executive Director, United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island. “We have worked hard to get these warming centres open for our neighbours when they need it the most, but it’s not a solution to house the over 600 people experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo. We will continue to advocate for further resources, so we can keep helping our community.”
The United Way says that capacity at each warming centre is limited to implement COVID-19 safety requirements.
“Given the high percentage of homeless individuals in Nanaimo that are living unsheltered resources to provide them warming opportunities are long overdue. We are working hard with our partners to support these individuals with a warm, safe place to rest during the day and to get resources to survive outside in the winter weather,” says Chantale Roelens, Executive Director, Society for Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy.
Approximately $110,000 in funding was granted through the UWCNVI and the Government of Canada, with the money being directed by the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition for the operational costs associated with running the two warming centres.