Coronavirus: Kelowna’s homeless services change due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic

People in Kelowna experiencing homelessness have seen major changes to their services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What I’m worried about is the people from the Welcome Inn and the shelters doing drugs and their immune systems are down,” said Troy Leavitt, a man in Kelowna experiencing homelessness.

Homeless shelters have made changes to their policies amid the outbreak, in conjunction with the City of Kelowna and Interior Health.

“We’ve incorporated a lot of changes here.,” said Randy Benson, Kelowna Gospel Mission’s executive director.

“Right now, we are open to our registered guests only.”

Acccording to Benson, no new clients will be able to stay at the Kelowna Gospel Mission, even if a current one decides to leave.

“As far as our day services go, we’ve suspended them,” said Benson. “We have no outside people coming into the shelter.”

The Kelowna Gospel Mission said it’s reiterating to its guests the importance of social distancing.

Benson told Global News on Friday that if any guest shows any COVID-19 symptoms, they’re isolated within the facility.

Despite social distancing recommendations from the province and federal governments, guests are still sharing bunk-beds.

Kelowna Gospel Mission will continue to serve meals.

However, breakfast and lunch will be served outside in their courtyard.

Dinner service has drastically changed.

“We are partnering with the mission to be able to come out each evening seven nights a week to provide meal services,” said Darryl Burry, the Salvation Army’s executive director.

The Salvation Army food truck will be serving dinner service at Recreation Park in the downtown’s north end every night from 5:30 to 6:15.

The truck is prepared to make up to 70 meals a night.

The service providers say they’re in constant communication with Interior Health to determine what other changes need to be made as new information comes forward.

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