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VIDEO: Shelters forced to scale back due to staff shortages

There are shelters operating in Kelowna today at two-thirds capacity and the problem isn't funding.

It's a shortage of staff.

"I think every single industry is feeling the crunch right now," said Tara Tschritter. She's the regional manager for Turning Points Collaborative Society, which works with people struggling to find housing.

"We're always looking to hire good new qualified employees," said Tschritter.

Turning Points operates Kelowna's Richter Street Shelter, which has managed to stay at capacity, but it's been taxing for the existing employees.

A few blocks away the Doyle Avenue Shelter operated by the Kelowna Gospel Mission has been forced to scale back the number of beds it makes available by a third.

"We definitely need shelter space," Tschritter said in an interview with KelownaNow, "but we need a variety of different housing options."

In Kelowna, the focus over the last few years has been on creating supportive housing, but Tschritter sees a growing demand for affordable housing for people who aren't necessarily suffering from addiction and mental health issues.

"I think an average rent one-bedroom is $1450, two bedrooms is $1850, she said. "And that's just well out of the range for folks."

Tschritter said it's particularly difficult for people with disabilities or fixed incomes.

"We have a lot of people that are cycling into homelessness. We have families that we're seeing, we're having seniors that we're seeing, singles that we're seeing that are working at minimum wage jobs that literally just can't afford their rent."

Tschritter is appealing to members of the public who might have the capacity to offer rental space, to consider getting involved.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia <who> Tara Tschritter, Turning Points Collaborative Society

"We partner with landlords to provide housing to the folks that we serve," she explained.

With assistance from BC Housing and funds raised by their own society, Turning Points is able to support tenants and provide guaranteed rent for landlords.

And if you don't have space to offer, the organization is always in need of support.

"We have a fundraising campaign right now on our website that you can go to and donate monthly," said Tschritter.

The work Tschritter and organizations like Turning Points do is difficult and at times heartbreaking.

But it's also rewarding.

"Each person that we're able to connect with and support in finding long-term sustainable housing is a huge win," she said.

"It's a win for that individual and it's a win for our community."

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