This week’s frigid temperatures haven’t caused a run on beds at Penticton’s two emergency shelters – the bunks were spoken for months ago.

“The cold snap is driving a few more in, but, no, it’s been full all winter,” said Roger Evans, who manages the shelters on behalf of the Salvation Army.

The 20-bed Compass House facility on Nanaimo Avenue is open all year, while a new 27-bed winter shelter at the old Super 8 Motel on Main Street is open November through March.

“We’re taking the overflow at Compass House and we haven’t had to turn anyone away – and we won’t turn anyone away,” said Evans. “If we have to let them come in and sit on a couch, we will.”

In Timmins alone, the number of homeless people is growing and is much higher than what has been previously predicted.

Jason Sereda is the coordinator at Living Space, a Timmins organization that looks to alleviate and prevent homelessness.

“The 800 point, it was determined in the last two point-in-time counts that were conducted both in 2011 and this past summer, 2018. But, we know from experience that those point-in-time counts do miss people. So, if talking to service providers, we’re confident in estimating the number is well above a thousand.” said Sereda.

Bill Raddatz is executive director of Ruth and Naomi’s Mission. He says there is a waiting list for a shelter that guarantees each person a bed for four months, while an emergency shelter has been near capacity.

Raddatz says there is room for about 35 people at the emergency shelter. “We’ve been averaging generally, 20 a night since December … But last night, we had 28, which was probably one of the highest ones since Dec. 1.”

A participant in, and an advocate for, the basic income pilot project in Thunder Bay, Ont., says he’s facing a lot of uncertainty now that the program is in its waning weeks.

The pilot, launched by the previous provincial Liberal government, was cancelled after the Progressive Conservatives came into office in the June 2018 election. Despite the six-month wind-down, anti-poverty activists have said canceling the program ahead of schedule puts many in very difficult situations.

“As a society, hidden homelessness is not considered to be homelessness,” William O’Grady, a sociology professor at the University of Guelph, told Out in the Open.

“Images of homelessness, which appear in the Canadian mass media, for example, usually depict ‘the homeless’ as people living on the streets in large cities like Toronto and Vancouver.”

He added that people living with hidden homelessness may not consider themselves to be homeless, and therefore don’t seek support that may be available — essentially making them “invisible to the service system.”

Toronto’s shelters are consistently overflowing, advocates and public health experts warn

After years of shelter overcrowding and a dramatic rise in homeless deaths were met, largely, with government inaction is it time to declare homelessness in Toronto an emergency situation?

Many have compared shelter conditions to those of disaster relief camps. News stories of homeless deaths are almost weekly events and the estimated homeless population of the city sits at around 9000.

The weather is so cold the David Busby Centre’s outreach van is frozen shut, forcing staff to use their own vehicles to provide services to the city’s most vulnerable residents, executive director Sara Peddle said.

“We’re making sure everybody is in from the cold, and our outreach team is making sure everybody has a place to be or at least the supplies to be warm,” she told Simcoe.com on Thursday. “People are still outside, and we’re trying to connect with them.”

While Busby has been at cot capacity for a few days, it will remain open throughout the extreme cold. Busby has taken in more than 70 people per night during the cold snap.