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More homeless being turned away from Langley’s shelter in bad weather

Fewer available mats this winter

Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope is having to turn more people away during extreme weather alerts this winter season, the result of fewer available sleeping mats to accommodate emergency stays at the Langley facility.

That’s according to Cristina Schneiter, Gateway residential services manager, who said “turnaways” are higher than they experienced last year.

“We are consistently over capacity,” Schneiter advised, with more people than the shelter has space to accommodate.

“We try and make sure that those that are being turned away have a safe place to go, or at least warm clothes and a blanket,” Schneiter added.

“We hand out warming kits and we try and make sure that they have bus tickets to another shelter or another EWR (Extreme Weather Alert) site.”

Last winter, Schneiter explained, up to 30 additional sleeping spots could be added to the existing 32 beds and 30 relief mats already at Gateway during a weather alert – 15 mats at Gateway, and another 15 in a separate space managed by the Lookout Housing and Health Society at St. Andrews Anglican Church.

But this year, the church space is not available.

Schneiter said she was unable to comment on that, beyond confirming St. Andrews “wasn’t able to host this year,” and noting it wasn’t operated by Gateway. Langley Advance Times has reached out to Lookout Housing and Health Society for comment.

READ ALSO: Langley adds second extreme weather shelter at local church

It helps that it has been a relatively mild winter so far, and a search for more space is underway, she said.

“We don’t have a second site yet,” Schneiter reported.

“The EWR working group is working very collaboratively together [to find one]. We keep trying. We meet regularly and are hoping that something can be established, even mid-season.”

Meanwhile, donations of blankets are needed to help those who are turned away, Schneiter said.

Anyone who can contribute is asked to get in touch with Gateway through the “contact us” link at the website:

READ ALSO: More people living in shelters, on streets in Langley

More people are without a home or shelter in Langley, according to the most recent Homeless Count for Greater Vancouver, released in October.

Prepared by the Homelessness Services Association of B.C., it found 235 people were homeless in Langley on the day of the survey, up by 12 per cent compared to the previous survey in 2020.

Of those counted, 76 were in a homeless shelter and another 15 were in an emergency weather shelter.

The largest group, 133 people, were listed as unsheltered, meaning they were sleeping outside, in a tent or makeshift shelter, in a vehicle, or temporarily staying with someone else who did have a conventional shelter.

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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