Clients from the Inuvik Homeless Shelter have been temporarily relocated to a vacant group home on Reliance Street after bed bugs were discovered in one of the rooms last week.

Lucy Kuptana, chair of the shelter’s board of directors, said initially shelter manager Christina Kasook tried to clean up the shelter as per the advice of an environmental health officer. But employees did not want to risk bringing the bed bugs home, so they had to relocate.

Residents of Inuvik’s homeless centre have been moved to a temporary building on Reliance Street while the building is fumigated.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

“The clients were chipping in and helping Christina clean it up and address the bed bug situation, removing mattresses, all that sort of thing,” said Kuptana. “The biggest concern was shelter employees were not comfortable working at the shelter with the bed bug situation because they didn’t want to bring it to their homes.”

Kuptana said after an emergency meeting was held, the hospital offered the shelter the use of the group home.

“We were faced with some immediate concerns. We didn’t want to just shut the shelter down – where would those sixteen people without a home go?” said Kuptana. “It’s been difficult.”

Kuptana said the shelter’s board is working on completing applications for funding to pay for the fumigation of the shelter, as well as new flooring, linens and furniture for the building.

However, she said the shelter will have to front the costs, which is money they do not have. She said the shelter receives some government funding, but they supplement it by holding fundraising bingo nights.

“As a not-for-profit society that barely breaks even, how are we going to spend money that we don’t have? We’re always short on money.” said Kuptana. “We don’t have the cash on hand.”

Kuptana said she doesn’t know how long it will take for the funding to be approved.

“We’re working in a pretty bleak situation,” said Kuptana. “We’re in crisis.”

The shelter provides a home for those who are trying to transition back into their own home through sobriety. Kuptana said the shelter usually has between 14 and 16 clients.

Kuptana said those in the community who want to help are encouraged to attend the shelter’s annual general meeting at the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation building at 5 p.m. on May 14. She said the shelter is in need of volunteers and board members.

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