Hope Mission opens beds in first-of-its-kind day shelter for Edmonton's homeless

For the first time the Hope Mission is opening beds where homeless people can sleep and rest in during the day. The six-month pilot program with 150 beds is funded by the provincial government.

‘To have a place where everyone can come and rest is huge’

Hope Mission says its 150 day beds will provide safe places for Edmonton's homeless to recover and get referrals to other programs. (Gareth Hampshire/CBC)

When you've got nowhere else to go during the day, finding a safe, warm place to rest in Edmonton has always been a major challenge.

While there are shelters available overnight, that hasn't been an option during the day.

Until now.

"I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that there is really no place — if you are homeless in Edmonton — for you to go in and sleep anywhere in the city," said Robin Padanyi, a spokesperson for Hope Mission.

For years, people on the streets have told the social agency they'd like to see beds available, even for a few hours during the day.

"They've said, 'You're exhausted, you're hopeless when you're wandering through the streets'," Padanyi said.

Many of those people also have addictions and mental health problems, making them feel even more desperate, he said.

There are 50 shelter beds on the main floor of the Hope Mission main building, and 50 more in another area of the building. (Gareth Hampshire CBC News)

"A lot of our guests find themselves going from the library to City Centre Mall, any number of places, where they are really not encouraged or invited to sleep."

A six-month pilot project funded by the Alberta government now makes it possible for people to find daytime beds.

At the beginning of November, 50 beds were opened on the main floor at the Hope Mission's main building at 9908 106 Ave.

Fifty more beds will open in another part of the building downstairs. Mobile trailers a block away will be able to accommodate another 50 people.

Fifty more of the Hope Mission's day beds are in nearby trailers that will open on Wednesday. (Gareth Hampshire CBC News)

There have already been days when more than 100 people have checked into the beds. As the weather turns colder, the shelter expects those numbers to creep up.

Allowing people to rest is key, but it's only a part of the new approach. The agency hopes to connect people looking for help to other services, such as transitional housing and health care.

The Hope Mission will officially unveil the new day beds at a grand opening Wednesday afternoon, with municipal and provincial politicians on hand.

The most recent numbers from 2014 identified 2,307 homeless people in Edmonton. Another count was conducted this fall, but those numbers are not yet available.