City says it has more, not fewer, shelter beds this winter

The City of Vancouver’s Winter Response Shelter Strategy will actually provide more shelter beds than they did in 2012, said a city spokesperson, despite a press release to the contrary.


The city’s press release on November 22 announced the provincial government would be funding two winter response shelters with 75 beds in total, from December until April 2014. Another 40 beds would be provided as transition housing at the former Ramada Hotel on East Hastings when construction finishes in early December.


Last year the provincial government funded four temporary winter shelters with 160 beds in total, in addition to the 638 permanent, year-round shelter beds and 200 temporary beds in Homeless Emergency Action Team (HEAT) shelters, which are funded until March 2014.


A city spokesperson told Megaphone by email the number of beds available starting in December is actually 190. The spokesperson said there would be an additional transition housing project opening this month and city staff were scheduled to make a presentation with updated bed numbers after Megaphone’s production deadline.


The 2013 Vancouver Homeless Count found 1,600 homeless people in the city: 1,327 sheltered and 273 unsheltered homeless people. The Homeless Count report also profiled the average person staying in the HEAT/Winter Response shelters, showing the typical client was male, Aboriginal and homeless for only three to five months.


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