Following a record-breaking year, planning has already begun to prepare for the opening of Delta’s extreme weather shelter next winter.
During the 2018/19 season from Nov. 1 to March 31, the shelter at Ladner United Church was open 88 nights with 174 stays. That was an increase from the 2017/18 season when it was open 64 nights and hosted 69 stays.
In a report to Delta council May 13, staff said the increased numbers reflect the extremely poor winter weather and increased awareness of the shelter.
During the 88 nights the shelter was open this past season, clients included those in precarious or temporary housing situations, those evicted, the homeless and a few people in transit through Delta.
Of the 174 stays, approximately 64 per cent were male and 37 per cent were female. A few dogs also stayed overnight with their owners.
In addition to providing a place out of the cold, the shelter also offered showers, food and laundry services.
Since the shelter opened in 2017, volunteers requested the purchase and installation of laundry facilities at the church. Last year, Delta used funds remaining from the initial start-up budget for the shelter ($5,520) to provide laundry services. During the season, the laundry facilities were used 33 times. Use will continue throughout the year as the church welcomes vulnerable individuals for coffee, a visit and connection with the community advocate.
Shelter coordinator Shirley Baker previously told the Optimist how thankful she was for the many volunteers and the community support which allowed the shelter to stay open and serve those in need.
“People dropped off clothes, food, gift cards, groceries and little items that provide a little bit of comfort,” Baker said. “Having that feeling that the community supports you means so much.”
At council, Mayor George Harvie recognized Baker and the volunteers for their tireless efforts in running the shelter.
“Shirley, I would like to thank-you for your abilities, your time, your talent and your commitment in supporting our Delta community,” said Harvie.
The City of Delta will continue to support the shelter with a $1,000 grant, although staff said it would be willing to look at an increase should council deem it necessary.
Shelter volunteers along with Delta staff will be meeting on June 19 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the church to discuss operations next season, a possible earlier opening time for the shelter and the idea of collaborating with more community agencies for food and other support services.
Community members wishing to assist are welcome to attend the meeting.