The search for shelter in Salmon Arm for people who are vulnerable during the pandemic, including those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, is reaping results.
Earlier in May, BC Housing reported that the former McGuire Lake Congregate Living facility is part of a plan to provide temporary housing for people who are immunocompromised or otherwise at risk of contracting COVID-19.
“So far, BC Housing has secured three sites with 69 spaces where vulnerable people, including those who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, can maintain physical distance during the COVID-19 pandemic… Up to 58 of these spaces will be at the former McGuire Lake Congregate Living Facility,” reads a May 21 statement from BC Housing.
The Salvation Army will operate the site and will move into the building in the coming weeks, once the site is adequately set up and all staff have been trained. No definite opening date has been set yet.
Along with operating the McGuire Lake site, the Salvation Army will move its 16-bed Lighthouse Emergency Shelter into the McGuire Lake building. Although the Lighthouse shelter usually closes on March 31, this year it has remained open in response to COVID-19.
“Spaces at this site (McGuire Lake) are through referral by Interior Health. Services provided include daily meals, access to hygiene facilities such as showers and washrooms, laundry and health services,” states BC Housing. “Staff are onsite 24/7 to offer support to guests and monitor who is coming in and out of the building.”
Lieutenant Joel Torrens of the Salvation Army in Salmon Arm emphasized that the McGuire Lake facility is shelter space, not long-term housing. He explained that his organization has been fielding a lot of inquiries about housing, particularly from out-of-town.
He expressed his gratitude for all of the work by BC Housing, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Interior Health and the City of Salmon Arm towards providing supports for people who are vulnerable during the pandemic.
Torrens said he is impressed with how Salmon Arm comes together – from its concerned citizens, to social services providers, to his contacts at various levels of government.
BC Housing said more information will be provided if and when additional indoor sheltering sites are made available. As contracts get finalized for additional spaces, they will be listed on its website: www.bchousing.org/COVID-19/community-sites.
Along with these spaces, construction remains on schedule for 38 supportive units at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Third Street SW in Salmon Arm for people who are without homes. They are expected to be completed in fall 2021.
Also underway are 67 units in two four-storey affordable rental buildings for families, seniors and people with disabilities, expected to be completed this winter.