Homeless Advocate Says Wrap-Around Services Are The Solution For Kamloops | iINFOnews

Human services advocate Tanya Spahmann (standing) with service user Erika Stefan, who used The Loop resource center in Kamloops before it closed earlier this year.


November 08, 2021 – 06:31 AM

As the weather cools, a longtime advocate for marginalized members of the city of Kamloops speaks out against the homelessness crisis and the need for comprehensive services.

Tanya Spahmann sits on the board of directors of the Out of The Cold program which provides support to the homeless during the hottest and coldest times of the year. She is currently in her third year of the Social Work program at Thompson Rivers University.

Spahmann said she hoped the city would prioritize providing comprehensive services for the marginalized population before focusing on providing affordable housing.

“The city is ignoring the social problem, which is the most pressing problem, and which is being informed by homeless people who coexist with mental health and addictions,” she said. “We need to treat the social problem as a humanitarian priority and shift from there to the need for affordable housing. ”

Councilor Arjun Singh said he doesn’t like to pit one problem against another.

“We have to do both,” he said. “I agree that we need these services. It breaks my heart that we are in the situation we find ourselves in now. I have never seen the council work so hard for positive change on the social side. We’re all frustrated that things haven’t happened faster or more efficiently. ”

Singh said addiction and mental health issues are complicated and difficult.

“The most dependent people are usually the hardest to reach to get them to access services,” he said. “Complementary services are generally funded by the provincial government. We are looking for a complex care facility and a sobering up center and one of the challenges is that the staff are not there yet. We have staff shortages in hospitals and in nursing homes. ”

Spahmann said she was particularly concerned about the homeless population on the North Shore, after volunteering for a year at The Loop resource center before it closed in July.

READ MORE: IN VIDEO: City of Kamloops revokes commercial license for The Loop

“Despite the city’s multidimensional involvement in the social problems of the Côte-Nord, apart from the approach, there are still no services here for people experiencing homelessness,” said Spahmann. “It has been going on since The Loop closed due to a knee-jerk reaction to the optics and the much lauded Envision opening never happened.”

Spahmann said there was a need for a winter shelter on the North Shore.

“If we only have one center on one side, we’ll need a shuttle service,” Singh said. “The day lodge did not take place due to a conflict of interest with a hotel owner. We unfortunately did not foresee this stumbling block. We need to have services on the North Shore and downtown. Hopefully we will start having these discussions earlier in the year, well before the cold weather begins.

READ MORE: City of Kamloops to Announce New ‘Accommodation Solutions’ in Coming Weeks

Spahmann envisions a single large permanent emergency shelter for the marginalized, with integrated intersectional models and enveloping services provided.

“There should be separate quarters for different levels of need and recovery,” she said. “There should be cultural considerations. It absolutely has to be transient and low barrier with a lot of staff. It should include medical, interventional and cultural services.

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