Prince George’s first true stretch of winter is expected to provide some challenges to our homeless population as well as those accessing food banks.

PG Native Friendship Centre Executive Director, Barb Ward-Burkitt told while our homeless population is scrambling to seek shelter, finding a place to stay is only half the battle.

“It’s not just about providing a bed and a meal. We want to work with individuals to get them to the point where they can perhaps get into independent housing, get connected to housing and health supports.”

While Ward-Burkitt admits there aren’t enough warm beds, the Native Friendship Centre does have another housing option in place for those needing a place to stay.

“The Friendship Centre itself has just opened up a new shelter on 2nd Avenue in a funding partnership with BC Housing and the things that are barriers to our downtown population is the availability of food and laundry facilities. We have a lot of individuals in our community who are struggling and living in poverty so they are reaching out for other supports to try and maintain their families and children. We have a number of organizations in the community who continue to provide those supports.”

Meanwhile, the St. Vincent de Paul Society continues to offer a take-out service for food to assist this vulnerable population.

Executive Director Bernie Goold noted its troublesome they can’t welcome people into their facility to enjoy a nice hot meal due to the current pandemic and provincial health restrictions.

“It bothers us tremendously to hand everyone a brown paper bag with their food in it at safe distancing when we know they are going to be down the street and right outside of our building eating it.”

“We just try our very best to cook hot meals with extra-large portions. They can also go to our store and get clothing or blankets. We are pleased to be doing all the things that we were before the pandemic but to do them in a different way. They may not be perfect but at least we feel we are still able to provide our services.”

COVID-19 exposure continues to be a concern in the downtown core when it comes to the homeless population.

On Tuesday, Northern Health warned of possible exposure at Active Support Against Poverty on 6th Avenue.

The potential exposure event happened at the shelter between January 19th and 21st.