Sonja Derrick has been using the North Coast Transition Society Third Ave. vulnerable persons shelter for more than a year. Derrick uses a walker to assist with mobility and spends her days under cover at the back of a building in Prince Rupert. With graffiti for wallpaper and concrete for flooring during the day, Derrick said she welcomes the cot available to her at the shelter each night. She said the shelter has only one cot for aged and less able bodied users, other shelter clients get a thin mattress on the floor for a bed. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

UPDATED: Homeless shelter concerns

NCTS managed shelter is moving to new location

BC Housing has confirmed on April 16, the relocation of the Prince Rupert Homeless Shelter on Third Ave. to the Fisherman’s Hall on Fraser Street.

“BC Housing has negotiated a temporary lease with the Fisherman’s Hall to relocate the existing temporary shelter at 3rd Avenue,” Samantha Cacnio, senior communications specialist, corporate communications for BC Housing told The Northern View.

The move is in response to a recent letter from the Transition Society to the City requesting a relocation to the Jim Ciccone Centre during the midst of COVID-19, as the Third Ave. shelter facilities was not meeting health and safety needs during the pandemic.

READ MORE: City gives no response to homelessness concerns

“BC Housing has identified a long-term housing solution and will provide more details once contract negotiations are finalized,” Cacino said.

As tentative negotiations are still in progress to secure the long term facility, the location and parties must remain confidential at this time. More information will be forthcoming once details are finalized, BC Housing said.

Cacino wanted to clarify that the City has not issued a notice to North Coast Transition Society to vacate the existing shelter and as such the NCTS is not being evicted.

“The new space at Fishermen’s Hall is large enough to accommodate more beds and provide appropriate distancing. Minor renovations are underway to ensure health and safety for clients and staff,” Cacino told The Northern View.

“I’m thankful to the amazing staff and administration of the Society (NCTS) and BC Housing for their tireless work and commitment to finding a solution for our community, which made this possible,” Jennifer Rice, MLA for the North Coast said. “The new location at the Fisherman’s Hall will provide a place for those in our community experiencing homelessness during these difficult times to stay safe and warm while physically distancing.”

The NCTS is greatly appreciative of the help and support thye have received from MLA Jennifer Rice and her office in helping with securing a temporary location at the Fisherman’s Hall, Christine White, executive director of NCTS said.

“This will most definitely go a great way towards a more safe and secure environment especially in the present difficult circumstances that everyone is facing,” White said.

READ MORE: B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

“BC Housing is working with the municipality, Northern Health, and experienced non-profit shelter and housing providers to develop a community-based response plan to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Lee Brain, Prince Rupert mayor said. “This includes identifying locations in Prince Rupert where vulnerable individuals, including those who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, would be able to recover and self-isolate.”

“Two new sites have been confirmed in Prince Rupert and will be opening in the coming days. One site is Fisherman’s Hall that will provide 35 spaces and the second site includes 20 rooms at a local hotel,” Brain said.

Brain said, both sites will be targeted to those who are precariously housed or experiencing homelessness and need a safe space to self-isolate. Over the coming days and weeks, BC Housing will work with the housing provider and Northern Health to finalize a referral process for these sites and start to move people in.

“These new sites are critical to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. They will help to thin out the existing shelter, ensure physical distancing and will help to bring vulnerable people indoors to self-isolate,” Brain said.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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