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Local shelter increases rescue van patrols, widens reach as temperatures dip

(Courtesy UGM via Twitter)

The UGM has increased patrols with its Mobile Mission, as well as widened its reach with temperatures falling

A local group is doing its part to ensure the region's most vulnerable are kept warm as temperatures dip

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you park your car outside, you probably had to scrape your car Monday morning.

With temperatures dropping, the cold isn’t just an inconvenience, but is also a major hazard when it comes to some of the most vulnerable around the region.

One of the groups looking out for the homeless is the Union Gospel Mission.

With temperatures dropping below zero overnight, they’ve increased their rescue van patrols to five days a week, giving people living outside the opportunity to come inside, or if they decline, a sweater or blanket.

“What we’re seeing already is that we’ve been getting a number of people coming to us, to our location in the Downtown Eastside, and they’re saying ‘we’re cold, we don’t have the gear we need,'” the UGM’s Jeremy Hunka says.

However, with temperatures dipping to below freezing, Hunka says there is now a growing concern for those living on the streets outside of the city and in the suburbs.

In recent years, he says the group has also noticed more people living on the streets in these areas.

“What we’re seeing is a greater number of people who are at risk of homelessness, largely because rents are going up and vacancies are going down in the suburbs. And there aren’t as many services as you move out from Vancouver into the suburbs.”

He says when you’re spending entire days outside, the cold can really “bite” you.

“It becomes really cold, really fast,” he tells NEWS 1130. “Especially for people who already have a chronic health condition. Things can deteriorate really fast.”

The UGM accepts donations that will help fund initiatives like the ones that help those in need of warm clothing items.

Hunka adds the Mission is also accepting gently used items, especially cold weather gear.

“We’re always looking for waterproof boots, waterproof jackets, warm sweaters. Those things can make a huge difference to people who don’t have shelter.”