There are more people living on the streets of Vancouver than there are emergency beds available.
That’s according to the Union Gospel Mission’s Jeremy Hunka, who says homeless support workers and the people they look out for are bracing for temperatures as low as -8 degrees downtown tonight.
Temperatures are expected to dip as far as -20 in the Fraser Valley.
Hunka says so far there hasn’t been any cases of people dying in Vancouver after being caught out in the cold.
“However we do know people do pass away living on the streets. That we know of, in the last year that was available, more than 40 people in British Columbia had died who are homeless. And we know that number is severely under-reported,” he says.
Hunka says the UGM has beds for 72 people which are all regularly filled, and another 20 emergency beds on standby
He says there’s a plan in place if that’s not enough tonight.
“We’ll do what we can to try to refer them to another place, there are a couple hundred extreme weather response shelters open nearby, there’s winter response shelters,” he says.
Back in 2008, a homeless woman from Abbotsford burned to death in downtown Vancouver, after her makeshift shelter caught fire.