Extreme weather beds open for homeless

However, almost half of Surrey’s street people refuse to come in

Extra shelter beds were opened last week as the temperatures dropped well below freezing.

Kevin Campbell, co-ordinator for Surrey’s extreme weather response said about 50 beds were made available and of those, only 32 were required.

He anticipated a bigger crowd on following nights as the weather turned even colder.

Campbell has 35 outreach workers combing the streets, parks and forested areas for people who need shelter.

Some refuse.

“It’s always hard – 42 per cent of people don’t want to come into a shelter,” Campbell said. Those people are provided with blankets and other necessities.

Assuring people they’re better off in a warm shelter is difficult, he said.

“That’s the trick,” Campbell said. “How do you convince someone to come in?”

He said some of the problem is that people have a misconception of the shelter environment.

“Shelters have got a bad rap I think,” Campbell said. “We show movies, we have popcorn, it’s not a bad place to go actually.”

He estimates nine out of 10 homeless persons know where to find the Front Room Drop-In Centre, which serves as a triage for those needing shelter during the cold snap.

“If someone in Surrey wants a bed, they can get one,” Campbell said.

The Front Room is located at 10667 135A St.

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