The Gateway of Hope, Langley’s primary homeless shelter, has been busy as winter weather has closed in over the Lower Mainland.
“On average, we’re running at 100 per cent,” said Cristina Schneiter, the residential services manager for the Salvation Army facility on the Langley Bypass.
The Gateway of Hope also runs daily meal programs, and is busy this time of year distributing Christmas hampers to needy families, but its shelter is one of its key functions.
Despite the freezing rain that hit parts of Langley on Tuesday night, “we still had some open spaces,” Schneiter said, likely because the weather was a bit warmer than expected.
However, that is not expected to last.
Rainy weather is expected to turn to snow as early as Friday, Dec. 24, with temperatures plunging to lows of -9 Celsius by Boxing Day.
Schneiter noted that when the shelter has been full, they’ve been sending people to other shelters and providing cold-weather supplies for those who stay outside.
“We have blankets and warming jackets,” she said.
Due to COVID restrictions, there are a maximum of 62 beds available right now at the Gateway of Hope.
Meanwhile, Salvation Army Emergency Weather Response Shelters were being activated across B.C. as cold and snow were expected for most of the holiday weekend and beyond.
“The cold weather is especially hard on people living on the streets,” said Salvation Army spokesperson Mike Leland. “Many of these individuals already deal with health conditions that can be worsened and even become fatal when the temperature drops drastically.”
He urged people to check with their local Salvation Army if they need assistance.
“If you or someone you know needs shelter, check with your local Salvation Army to see what resources are available. If we can’t assist you, we can direct you to an organization that can.”