The Province and Salvation Army have jointly extended funding that enables the 14-bed Pidcock House shelter in Courtenay to continue operating on a 24/7 basis for an additional nine months.
Funding for round-the-clock shelter operations was slated to expire Saturday.
Which begs the question: What happens as of March 31, 2013 when nine months are up?
“That’s our concern,” said Brent Hobden, Sally Ann’s community ministry director in the Comox Valley. “Space in the shelter is extremely limited, but we do have some plans to put in some renovations to try to squeeze out a bit of programming space.
“The problem is our funds are so limited we just can’t afford to be putting money into an operation that isn’t going to continue.”
With more program space, the Sally Ann can work on resumes and goal-setting options with clients.
“But is that a wise way to spend money if, come April 1, that program space would be mute?” said Hobden, noting the Sally Ann would need to move a case worker from its Family Services offices at 2966 Kilpatrick Ave. back to the shelter if funding does not continue past March 31.
“It’s extremely difficult for our guests to go from the shelter on Pidcock all the way over here (Kilpatrick). We’re just not able to do what we could if we were able to continue those programs in the shelter.”
For the time being, gateway service delivery will continue at the same location. The service involves a one-on-one interview process to develop a personal plan for clients. It includes addictions counseling, health care and job skills.
Hobden said the Salvation Army is investing about $50,000 to keep the shelter open from July 1 to Sept. 30. BC housing is contributing about twice the amount to keep it open from Oct. 1 to the end of March.
He credits a letter-writing campaign by Comox Valley MLA Don McRae and several members of the community who suggested to BC Housing that 24/7 shelter funding is desperately needed in the Valley.
“24/7 funding is pretty much in every other (B.C.) community,” Hobden said. “We really need it here. We can’t offer the level of support (needed) to our guests.”