Kelowna Shelters Band Together as Temperatures Fall

Randy Benson is the Executive Director of Kelowna's Gospel Mission

Kelowna's Gospel Mission is opening their doors wide this week, as overnight temperatures continue to drop.

The needle is expected to fall as low as minus 13 on Thursday night.

The Mission is collaborating with local shelters to provide warm beds to the city's homeless.

"We work with the other shelters, Inn From The Cold and Cornerstone" said Executive Director Randy Benson. "If we've got more than we can handle, we contact them and we make sure there's space in our shelters for everybody that needs it."

The Central Okanagan Foundation conducted a homeless count in the city last March. They found at least 286 people were experiencing homelessness in Kelowna, a 23% increase from the previous count in 2016.

Despite the uptick, local shelters are managing with the help of new supportive housing projects in the community like Hearthstone, a supportive housing project run by the John Howard Society.

"We haven't had to turn any people away." said Benson. "With the housing that is opened up now through Hearthstone ... that's taking some of the pressure off the shelters too."

Kelowna's Gospel Mission is also accepting donations of warm clothing through the winter months.