The coldest temperatures of the winter are expected to drive Langley’s homeless indoors this week, as an Emergency Weather Response has been declared.
“It’s very concerning,” said Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek. I couldn’t imagine living out on the street when it’s minus 10 out.”
City council got an update on the situation at it’s Monday meeting, and van den Broek said the good news is that there is apparently space to get more people inside.
There are about 12 open beds right now at the Gateway of Hope shelter, operated by the Salvation Army.
Gateway’s residential services provider Cristina Schneiter confirmed there are a number of empty spaces.
Partly, that’s actually because of COVID-19 and provincial efforts to house people during the pandemic.
There is room at the shelter because the provincial government has been housing more people in local hotels since the start of the pandemic, van den Broek said. It’s freed up room in the emergency shelters.
Schneiter said that the shelter has actually been under capacity slightly ever since around April or May.
Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese confirmed that not only is there still space, if the shelter runs out, the Township would be prepared to step in and help out if an emergency situation develops.
Van den Broek said that Gateway and local non-profit groups like Kimz Angels have been working to help people on the streets during the cold.
Local groups typically distribute warm blankets, gloves, dry socks, and hats during the winter. No matter how cold it gets, some homeless people do not come into the shelters, but tough out the weather in tents in the bush around the community.