Homeless shelter in jeopardy after funding dries up

Reverend Jim Short says it was due to 'low occupancy'

Delta's Extreme Weather Shelter was open 62 nights last winter and housed 42 homeless.

Ladner United Church may have to discontinue service for its Extreme Weather Shelter after its funding was cut, according to the church’s Reverend Jim Short.

Their local extreme weather coordinator—Options Community Services Society based out of Surrey—cited low occupancy numbers at the Delta Extreme Weather Shelter over the last two years as a reason BC Housing has decided to reallocate resources to other sites.

The shelter received $700 per night it was open in funding, according to Peter Fedos of the Options Society, with overall expenditures of $28,000 for 2011.

The two shelter workers received an honorarium for being on duty while all other workers were volunteers, providing organization, cleaning, laundry, food preparation, and other duties.

“The majority of guests came from outside of our community, travelling through, ending up here, and a few folks who needed refuge and was not used extensively by the visible homeless in our South Delta Community,” wrote Short in an email.

He said North Delta homeless would likely seek shelter in Surrey as opposed to Ladner.

Short said the funding cut raises some important questions, including the need for a shelter in Ladner and safe refuge for someone leaving domestic violence.

But the church, which is currently undergoing major renovations, might still convert a planned multi-purpose room into an emergency shelter.

“We have a commitment to this as it reflects our values and vision,” said Short, adding a sponsor will still need to be found.

The Delta Extreme Weather Shelter staff will likely decide whether it should try to work Options Society to ask BC Housing to reverse its decision, or take on running the shelter with community donations.

Short said it’s unknown whether the police, hospital, or municipality would still refer people to the shelter without being one of 26 official Extreme Weather Shelters across the province.

Ladner United Church has been running the shelter for the past two years after the province created the Shelter Act in 2009 to provide extra emergency shelter beds to homeless persons during periods of weather that threaten their health and safety.

The church was first approached by the Delta Police Task Force on Homelessness and funded with the assistance of BC Housing and the Options Society.

The shelter was open 49 nights and housed 50 people in the winter of 2010-11, and was open 62 nights and housed 42 people last winter.

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