When the Salvation Army’s Lighthouse Shelter in Salmon Arm closed its beds for good on May 31, little information was available regarding what would be offered to people without homes come November.
While the complete answer to that question remains unknown, some information has been provided by BC Housing.
In an email to the Observer, BC Housing said the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has been selected as a new shelter operator.
“We are still searching for a new appropriate shelter location, as the old shelter is being used for other purposes. We never want to see people sleeping on the streets, which is why we are working closely with the City of Salmon Arm and stakeholders to find a permanent location for a new shelter that will operate year round to avoid further relocations.”
The email said the community will be updated once a new location is secured.
Dawn Dunlop, executive director of CMHA Shuswap Revelstoke, said her organization knows the importance of collaboration to meet housing needs and has been having conversations with Salvation Army leaders in Salmon Arm for several years.
She said it’s known the community needs year-round accommodation with support services such as a warming station in winter and a cooling station in summer.
“We are interested in providing this,” she said, but space and land are needed.
The intention is to be up and operational as soon as possible, but there is much to be done such as finding land, contract negotiations, staffing, budgets and more.
Dunlop said it’s great to have engaged partners like BC Housing and the City of Salmon Arm, and CMHA will also be collaborating with other partners and with people who have experienced homelessness to finalize services needed. She said the new shelter will be based in Salmon Arm but will serve the Shuswap.
Speaking with the Observer in May, Lieut. Joel Torrens said the Salvation Army building will continue to provide food and programming.
Torrens said once 24-hour accommodation was provided at the McGuire Lake building during Covid, the intention was to not open the overnight Lighthouse dormitories again. However, when the McGuire Lake building was no longer available, the beds were temporarily reopened.
BC Housing commented on Cedar Place in Salmon Arm and its commitment to Salmon Arm.
“We know that shelters are not a long-term housing solution, which is why we worked with our partners to open 38 supportive homes for people experiencing, or at-risk of, homelessness in Salmon Arm in November 2021. We will continue to work with the City and non-profit partners to build new supportive and affordable housing options for people in the community.”
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