Vancouver shelters at capacity as homeless struggle with freezing weather

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      Vancouver has experiencing a brutal cold snap since last Saturday (February 17) and temperatures are expected to remain well below freezing tonight (February 20).

      It’s left the city’s homeless population in a dangerous spot.

      Last night (February 19), the Union Gospel Mission (UGM), one of Vancouver’s leading shelter operators, said that it had to turn 25 people away on account of a lack of capacity.

      "Twenty-five turnaways in one night is an extreme number,” UGM's Jeremy Hunka told CBC News. “The need is extreme right now."

      UGM has dispatched a “mobile mission rescue vehicle” that’s driving around Vancouver offering survival gear and directing people to shelters.

      The City of Vancouver has opened extra warming centres since the temperatures dropped last weekend. Those are:

      • Britannia Community Centre (1739 Venables Street, hours: 9 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.)
      • Carnegie Community Centre (401 Main Street, hours: 11:15 p.m. to 7 a.m.)
      • West End Community Centre (870 Denman Street, hours: 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.)

      “Those looking for shelter space can call 2-1-1 to check availability,” reads a February 18 media release. “Community centres and other public buildings are also available during their open hours as spaces to warm up.”

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