Editorial: Drop in the bucket

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We all like to complain about the weather, especially when rainier and colder days return in the fall.

While the ceaseless dreariness can affect mood and impact road conditions, for most people fall conditions remain an inconvenience at most. But others are suffering through October nights knowing they must wait until Nov. 1 to get a dry place to sleep. That means more than a week to go and every possibility things could get worse before they get better.

Salt Spring Community Services’ In From the Cold program was originally funded through BC Housing as an extreme weather shelter — meaning it could open nights from November through March, but only when the temperature hit 0º C or there were periods of extreme rain. In recent years the organization has strived to cover the funding shortfall to allow it to be open every night during its set season, but a year-round shelter with more fulsome support services has long been its preferred approach.

Funding support from BC Housing announced Thursday as part of Homelessness Action Week that allows the shelter to be open every night of the year is therefore most welcome news. The island’s most vulnerable people now have a place to have dinner every night, a safe space to sleep and have breakfast in the morning, plus access to other Community Service programs that take place at the facility before noon. The shelter won’t provide a permanent residence, though, or even a place to leave belongings for the day until intake re-opens at 6 p.m.

Full housing for those most in need won’t likely be available until the Croftonbrook expansion projects gets rolling, but with 18 units to be rented at the shelter allowance rate for the hard to house and chronically homeless, a more permanent home for some islanders in need is at last forthcoming.

SSICS executive director Rob Grant says the shelter expansion also falls short on support services for issues that complicate and are frequently seen alongside homelessness, such as mental health supports and substance-use programs. The organization and local political support have proved able to get some attention from provincial sources. Let’s hope they can leverage their advocacy into yet more improvements.

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