Terrace’s only emergency homeless shelter already fills up beyond its official capacity despite having almost doubled in size earlier this year.
Joe’s Place, operated by the Ksan Society at the former Elks Hall on Tetrault across from the Mills Memorial Hospital property, has 40 beds.
That’s an increase from 22 beds when the shelter was located on Lakelse Ave. and called Turning Points.
The bed count increase and the move from downtown to the former Elks Hall this spring also reflects the reality of the city’s homeless population which this year was measured at 150 people, up from 100 the year before.
“The change from 22 to 40 permanent beds simply represents a change in funding that better reflects that capacity at which the shelter was already operating. That is to say, the shelter was working well beyond funded capacity,” said Ksan communications officer Vicky Serafini.
Even so, Serafini continued, Joe’s Place is regularly at or beyond its 40-bed capacity.
“For example, average occupancy for Oct. 1-12, 2023 was 49 individuals a night,” she said.
“This illustrates the high demand for, and necessity of, shelters in our community.”
The move to the Southside, the new name and the increase in bed capacity followed a change in how B.C. Housing provides money for the shelter.
It is no longer considered a temporary facility but a permanent one and with that comes an annual income stream from B.C. Housing, the provincial government agency responsible for both low-income and shelter housing.
Based on a three-year agreement with B.C. Housing, Ksan receives $2.037 million a year to operate Joe’s Place.
“While staffing levels may vary across time according to many factors, there are currently 20 employees including administration, maintenance and shelter employees,” B.C. Housing said in a provided statement.
That expenditure is in addition to the more than $1 million spent on purchasing the Elks Hall in 2022 and then extensively renovating it over the winter and into the spring of this year.
The Ksan shelter is not alone in being converted to a permanent facility from a temporary one as B.C. Housing did the same with every temporary one in the north.
“This transition means non-profit operators have a level of consistent funding, allowing for the streamlining of operations,” the provincial agency stated.
The Joe’s Place shelter has showers, laundry and daily meals in addition to beds and a common-use area.
It is not the only permanent shelter operated by Ksan — just one block east, on Hall St., Ksan runs a housing complex that includes a shelter component of 16 short-term stay beds.
But when demand began to exceed capacity on Hall St., Ksan opened the Turning Points shelter on Lakelse as a temporary facility only to now have it become the permanent Joe’s Place.
In addition to the Hall St. complex and Joe’s Place, Ksan is in line to open up another type of shelter also financed by B.C. Housing.
It would be a temporary winter facility and Ksan’s agreement with B.C. Housing to operate one as needed is for three years should B.C. Housing decide one is necessary.
“There is no predetermined location for a temporary winter shelter and no predetermined bed count,” said Serafini, emphasizing that Ksan was chosen because it met qualifications set out by B.C. Housing and that there is no set plan. “These things are usually determined by funding availability and need.”
Aside from shelter contracts with Ksan, B.C. Housing is moving people into a former motel on Hwy 16 it purchased this spring.
The 19-unit Mumford’s Lodge was bought for $2.5 million in April in response to tenants leaving the mold-ridden and badly maintained Coachman Apartments on the bench in January.
As of early November, 14 tenants are living at the facility with two of the five other units to be occupied shortly.