Kamloops's only full-time shelter has been full since opening night

By Ashley Legassic
November 9, 2018 - 2:18pm

KAMLOOPS — Since opening extra beds ahead of the winter season, Emerald Centre in Kamloops has been full every night — with some folks being turned away.

The shelter is able to house 55 people each night, and although the extra beds have helped give more people a warm bed, executive director for the Kamloops Canadian Mental Health Association, Christa Mullaly, says beds have been full up since the extra spots opened Nov. 1.

"We are still turning away folks because we're at the building capacity for the number of people we can have in there. But the numbers of turn-aways certainly are less," Mullaly says.

With two new housing projects on the horizon in Kamloops, Mullaly is optimistic that everyone who needs a roof for the night will get one.

The Osborne House on Mission Flats Road is expected to open early next week, with room for 55 tenants who can stay for up to three years. 

"At this stage we have 22 of our shelter clients that will be moving out to Osborne House, and so that will absolutely allow for some of the additional turn-aways we're seeing — because we're currently full — to come into the shelter," Mullaly says. "So it will absolutely provide us with some immediate additional shelter beds that will be vacated."

The Branch housing project — which is considered "bridge housing" — will be on Royal Avenue and up to 40 people can live there until they can move into permanent housing in the springtime. Those tenants will move into one of two modular housing projects once they are finished being constructed.

For now, Mullaly says there are limited options for people who get turned away from the Emerald Centre. If it's a Sunday or a Wednesday, the Out of the Cold shelter is operating and has a capacity of 28 clients.

"But that's only an option for a couple of nights a week, so I am sure they are probably being very well utilized as they have been every year that they've been operating," Mullaly says. "That's the only option in terms of low-barrier shelter options in (the) community for those two nights when Emerald Shelter is full."

Mullaly adds that the CMHA Kamloops branch is currently seeking winter clothes donations, specifically pajama pants, socks and slippers for clients who will be moving into Osborne House.

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