People experiencing homelessness in Surrey, B.C., are getting access to new washrooms, showers and laundry services with the opening of a new temporary modular facility.
The Healthy Living Complex of Care, located at the Cove Shelter site at 10607 King George Blvd., officially opened on Nov. 24.
"We believe that it's been necessary for a very long time," said Mike Musgrove, executive director of the Surrey Urban Mission Society (SUMS), the organization operating the facility.
"It's been something talked about in meetings throughout the city. Where can people go?"
The facility runs seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
It also serves guests by providing access to outreach workers, a private office for consultations, and a lounge with a computer workstation and phone. Toiletries and snacks are also available.
The facility's outreach team can help guests with applications for income assistance, treatment, or even obtaining an I.D., says Musgrove, adding that he believes centres like this help improve quality of life for people who are "stuck in certain situations."
A driver on-site can also help shuttle people to shelters or appointments.
"Access to washrooms, showers and laundry services is critical in supporting those in our community experiencing homelessness and other life challenges," Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke said in a press release from the city.
A place to go in extreme weather
Though it's only been open for a few weeks, the centre has already seen many visitors, according to Musgrove.
"The first two days we didn't have any signage on the doors, and still people were coming in," he said.
"I think the first couple days we had around 20, but through last week we were averaging 50, yesterday we had 76 people in."
The facility is one of six initiatives in the Pandemic Response Package funded by the federal government's Safe Restart Agreement, administered through the Union of B.C. Municipalities' Strengthening Communities' Services Program to create temporary programming in support of people experiencing homelessness in the city.
Musgrove adds that it is important for people to have a place to go in extreme weather.
"A lot of times, local places that we would be able to go inside and get a coffee, or a donut, or a burger or something, aren't necessarily open for people to go in that are non-housed," he said.