New Westminster, B.C. – The City of New Westminster is pleased to announce it has partnered with BC Housing to open a nightly shelter with 50 beds at 502 Columbia Street, accessed from Front Street. As of Sept. 1, 2022, the shelter is open 8:00 pm to 8:00 am, seven nights a week, until March 31, 2023.
The nightly shelter will provide access to hygiene facilities and meals. It will also provide enhanced access to outreach and support services, which will assist guests to address some of the issues that may be contributing to their homelessness, and reduce fire risk, particularly during the winter months when the unsheltered are trying to keep warm.
“This shelter addresses some important housing needs and is consistent with the City’s Downtown Livability Strategy,” said Mayor Jonathan Coté. “It’s a good interim measure that addresses some immediate housings challenges until the new supportive housing development on Sixth Street is completed.”
The 52-unit supportive housing development at 60-68 Sixth Street will provide more stable housing than a nightly shelter, while offering residents a range of support services. The new building is anticipated to be completed within the next three years.
City Council approved a Temporary Use Permit in November 2021 to allow the 502 Columbia Street site – formerly the location of Army & Navy department store – to be used as a shelter; it was used as a 50-bed Extreme Weather Response Program shelter from Dec. 30, 2021 to March 31, 2022.
The nightly shelter will be funded by BC Housing and operated by the Lower Mainland Purpose Society, which previously operated the extreme weather shelter. Purpose Society is headquartered in New Westminster, and offers a range of services, including a Health Contact Centre, a Housing Support Program, a Mobile Health Van, an Overdose Community Action Team, a Personal Identification Program, and a Rent Bank Program. As such, it well positioned to address the diverse needs of the unsheltered.
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