The Hamilton Hotel in Williams Lake is not being used as an emergency shelter.
Owner Anju Kumar Saxena, who purchased the downtown hotel in December 2018, and his manager Jay Shah said Friday, Feb. 12 they have had people showing up expecting they can stay there.
“We are a regular hotel and not being used as a shelter,” Shah told the Tribune.
Williams Lake city council will write a letter of support for a temporary night shelter at the Hamilton Hotel, subject to the project meeting all legal requirements and safety regulations.
Council endorsed the proposal from the situation table stakeholders group during a special council meeting Friday, Dec. 18 and committed $10,000 from the provincial COVID-19 restart funding the city received toward the shelter.
Earlier this month, council declined the idea of establishing a designated camping area for homeless, but agreed to work toward a long-term solution.
The proposal to use the Hamilton Hotel, which is located in the heart of downtown at 55 Sixth Avenue South, is ‘plan B’ from the situation table stakeholders.
They are asking for the third floor of the Hamilton Hotel to be used until March 31, 2021, and aside from asking the city for $10,000 is requesting emergency weather response funding from BC Housing.
A co-ordinated intake for participants will be done by the Salvation Army and CMHA Housing First/ Homeless Outreach Programs and clients will be screened in order to determine eligibility, the group noted in a letter to council.
Eligibility will be determined by contacting the Cariboo Friendship Society(CFS), to confirm bars to services or where possible, to offer integrated case management meetings with the CFS to remove barriers.
The Salvation Army will screen clients to determine whether or not they have been in the community for six months or more and clients must be able to access shelter funds from the Ministry of Social Development, the letter noted.
Coun. Scott Nelson said the city appreciates the work the group has done to date.
“We recognized the difficulty that has occurred and recognize what is behind the proposal. It fits in the bigger picture of coming up with a long-term solution,” Nelson said, noting council is also working with the provincial government behind the scenes for solutions as well.
A BC Housing spokesperson told the Tribune Tuesday, Jan. 5, its representatives continue to look at a number of ways to bring people inside and options continue to evolve along with the needs of the community.
“We will provide more information if and when additional indoor sheltering sites are made available,” the spokeperson noted.
Additionally council approved an application to the Northern Development Initiative Trust housing incentive program for $40,000 to put toward construction of a four-unit market housing complex.
“We need the housing,” Mayor Walt Cobb said.
The application is past the Oct. 31 deadline, but the city is asking for special consideration based on the significant need for housing.