The number of bed stays at the Ksan House Society’s damp shelter this winter has hit a record high.
For the first time in the four years the program has been offered in the community, there were more than 1,000 bed stays during the winter months.
Total bed stays from November 2010 to April 2011 came to 1,112, which is almost double the 576 bed stays the winter before.
The winter of 2008-2009 had the second highest number of bed stays at 722, while the first year it was open, from December 2007 to March 2008, there was a total of 490 bed stays.
Ksan’s director of housing programs Jan LeFrancois said the number has increased for many reasons.
“In 2009 and 2010, we did not open for as long, people are expecting it now instead of looking for other options for the winter, (and) we had a much more severe winter in 2010/2011,” she explained.
The extreme weather shelter, popularly known as the damp shelter, is for intoxicated people who needed a safe place to stay during the night. This damp shelter gives intoxicated clients a place to shower, get clean clothes and do laundry, sleep for the night, and be fed. Alcohol and other possessions are locked up and given back to clients in the morning.
While this is not the same as Ksan’s emergency shelter, it is located behind the new emergency shelter on Hall St.
There are 10 beds available at the damp shelter, and when the space was used up, Ksan found room on the floor or on a chair or sofa. There was an average of 7.7 bed stays per night in 2011, up from the average 5 bed stays of the former three years.
And the majority of those staying in the shelter throughout the years have been men.
This winter, there were 100 individual males and 26 individual females who used the damp shelter.
In the 2009-2010 season, there were 77 individual males and 17 individual females used the damp shelter, compared to the 100 male and 20 female individuals in the 2008-2009 year. The lower number of bed stays in 2009-2010 could be due to a decrease in the number of days it was open.
During the first year, the damp weather program ran from December 17, 2007 to March 15, 2008, and there were 46 individual males, 13 individual females, and three couples using the damp shelter.
LeFrancois said she’s planning a meeting this September to see what actions need to be taken regarding the damp shelter this coming winter.