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Winter shelter quickly fills up

As predicted, Vancouver’s first emergency winter shelter quickly reached its 40-person capacity this weekend, less than three days after its Thursday opening.

As predicted, Vancouver’s first emergency winter shelter quickly reached its 40-person capacity this weekend, less than three days after its Thursday opening.

The inconspicuous East Broadway complex, which is managed by Rain City Housing, a non-profit group that aims to offer “low barrier,” 24-7 accommodations to members of the city’s homeless populace who may have trouble gaining access to other shelters, is the first of four similar facilities scheduled to open by mid-December.

“I’m not surprised, based on the need,” said Rain City spokesman Bill Briscall, reacting to the turnout.

“We’re a little bit ahead of schedule, but we had everything ready to go, so it’s not a problem.”

Though the centre may have reached its legal limit, associate director Sean Spear is likewise quick to caution against misconceptions of what a “full” shelter means.

“We’re not standing here blocking the door saying, ‘no, you can’t come in,’” says Spear, noting that even when over capacity, the facility still provides needy individuals with meals, temporary warmth, and assistance in locating alternate shelters in the area.

The City of Vancouver has so far pledged half a million dollars to support the four-shelter initiative, coupled with an additional $1.5 million from the provincial government in Victoria.

 
 
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