‘We need more staff’: Victoria homeless shelters facing labour shortage

'We need more staff': Victoria homeless shelters facing labour shortage
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With extreme rain and temperatures cooling by the day, demand for shelter in Victoria is high.

“We certainly are running two overnight shelters and they’re full every night,” said Grant Mckenzie, director of communications for Our Place.

At Our Place, Mckenzie says Monday’s storm saw many new faces walk through the doors of the non-profit for the first time.

“A lot of the people who are on the street right now are quite antisocial and they don’t really want to go into shelters,” said Mckenzie. “But when you get hit by something like that you kind of have to take help.”

In the case of extreme weather situations, the Salvation Army has designated 22 extra beds available at its Johnston st. location in downtown Victoria. The emergency space, however, wasn’t open due to a staffing shortage.

“We have sites, we have warm, safe sites for people to go, but we don’t have the staffing to open the capacity we would like to have,” said Nina Grossman with the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness.

“Like other companies, businesses and organizations across the CRD, we are experiencing staff shortages,” said Patricia Mamic with the Salvation Army. “We are managing things on a day-to-day basis.”

Advocates anticipate the need for more emergency spaces as a stormy winter is likely.

“We need more staff so we can open more sites so we can have a better response available for us as needed,” said Grossman.

In order to get winter-ready, non-profits like Our Place are also seeking donations such as socks, towels and clothing.

“Anything that can keep you dry in the wet weather,” said Mckenzie.

“We don’t always know how much need there will be, but we want to be prepared,” added Grossman.

The City of Victoria, meanwhile, plans to launch day-time warming centres in the near future.

Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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