Winter Inn for the homeless opens for another season

Red Deer’s Winter Inn for homeless adults opened for the season on Tuesday and people are already using the program.

Red Deer’s Winter Inn for homeless adults opened for the season on Tuesday and people are already using the program.

Kath Hoffman, executive director Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing, said funding from the province will only keep the overnight shelter operating until the end of March.

“It usually runs to end of April or mid May, which is nice because the weather can be just as bad then. If we need to operate it longer, we need to find the money,” Hoffman said on Thursday.

Safe Harbour received $110,000 in funding from the province, the same amount as last year.

But last year, Safe Harbour was able to top up funding with surplus it had from the previous year and keep the shelter open longer.

“We’ll have to search for alternate funding to extend it,” Hoffman said.

Winter Inn rotates through three downtown churches — Salvation Army, Potter’s Hands Ministries and Seventh-day Adventist — providing 20 to 30 spaces for people to sleep, depending on the church.

Churches open at 7:30 p.m. and close at 7:30 a.m. Temperatures have begun to dip below freezing regularly now.

Seven people used Winter Inn on Tuesday night and 10 showed up on Wednesday.

Hoffman said attendance is usually lower until word spreads that the program is open for the season.

Safe Harbour’s year-round homeless shelter, People’s Place, generally runs with 23 beds, and its detox mat program for people using drugs or alcohol has space for 20 people.

A delay in funding will keep Red Deer’s Youth Winter Inn closed until some time in December. The inn accepts youth age 14 to 17 who are intoxicated on drugs or alcohol and homeless.

The Youth and Volunteer Centre, which runs the Youth Winter Inn, will try to accommodate youth as best it can. It also operates the 49th Street Youth Shelter, an eight-bed emergency youth shelter for 12-to-17-year-olds where youth require parental permission to use the facility and can’t be intoxicated.

Hoffman expects some youth may show up at the adult Winter Inn.

“We’ll refer them where we can. If kids are high or intoxicated, there’s not a lot of options for them.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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