Turning Points Collaborative Society extends temporary winter shelter contract for three months as of March 25, 2020, but the facility is temporarily closed due to staff shortages. (Turning Points Society photo)

COVID-19 extends Vernon temporary shelter 3 months

Temporary winter homeless shelter can operate for three more months, but Turning Points struggles to staff it

  • Mar. 26, 2020 12:00 a.m.

Vernon’s temporary winter shelter will remain open for another three months, but it’s currently closed as Turning Points Collaborative Society can’t keep it fully staffed.

Turning Points has worked with BC Housing, Interior Health and the City of Vernon among other community partners to ensure the temporary shelter contract could be extended until June. It was slated to close at the end of March.

“We are having difficulty keeping this fully staffed so, it is temporarily closed until such time that we have sufficient staff,” executive director Randene Wejr said.

Staff involved in the temporary winter shelter have been deployed to other sites to assist with ramped-up sanitizations, cleaning and prevention protocols and once Turning Points is able to recruit qualified staff to cover all shifts the shelter will once again be re-opened.

In Turning Points’ other facilities, guidelines issued by the BC Centre for Disease Control and the provincial health officer are being followed. This includes travel restrictions, hand-washing protocols, social distancing and working from home where possible.

Portable hand-washing stations have been set up at shelters and housing sites, Wejr said in a statement.

Currently, facilities are not at capacity and staff continues to work at providing the space to social distance within Turning Points’ programs.

Turning Points’ staff are advised to minimize contact with others while away from work and masks are utilized to prevent the spread of outside contact to clients when possible.

“The health, safety and well-being of our staff, clients and the community has to take the highest priority,” Wejr said.

Turning Points closed its administration office March 13 and drop-in clients are no longer accepted at this time.

Clients who need to connect or make an appointment can still do so.

To contact the Homeless Prevention Program co-ordinator, Eric Denison

Call (250) 542-3555 ext 211 or email eric.denison@turningpoints.ngo

To contact the Homeless Outreach Program coordinator, Kelly Denis

Call (250) 542-3555 ext 210 or email kelly.denis2@turningpoints.ngo

To contact WorkBC case manager contact, Rachelle Tessier

Call (250) 542-3555 ext 204 or email rachelle.tessier@turningpoints.ngo

To contact WorkBC case manager contact, Malmie Gunawardena

Call (250) 542-3555 ext 208 or email malmie.gunawardena@turningpoints.ngo

The society has been providing services to Vernon’s marginalized populations since 1957.

“The importance of this essential role in operating housing, addiction and employment services is demonstrated once again during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus closes office doors at Vernon homeless outreach program

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