Shelters get ‘little bit of a break’ with funding extension

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“We’re still hoping we can find a better and safer solution so we don’t have to do this for two weeks at a time,” says a shelter manager

Local shelters have received a two-week funding extension, which will allow them to continue the emergency hotel shelter model in place at the Travelodge in Barrie.

Officials from the Elizabeth Fry Society Simcoe Muskoka and the Busby Center were informed Friday afternoon that the hotel emergency lodging program, developed in response to COVID-19, will receive an extension at reduced capacity.

Originally slated to end June 30, local organizations will now have until July 15 to return to their emergency shelters at home as they work in conjunction with Simcoe County, City of Barrie, Unity Simcoe Muskoka District Health and Community Service Organizations towards finding a responsible alternative site solution to accommodate the increased number of people requiring emergency shelter space in the area.

While pleased with the extension, Busby Center executive director Sara Peddle said BarrieToday a solution is still needed to help deal with the growing number of homeless people in the region.

“We’re grateful for any kind of respite, otherwise we should have had a bunch of people homeless by next Thursday,” she said.

Peddle said the plan is to use those extra 14 days to continue to look for alternative solutions and spaces, as well as to move some people to the center at 88 Mulcaster Street next week.

“They are reducing the number of rooms we have at the Travelodge. We’re still hoping we find a better and safer solution so we don’t have to do this two weeks at a time,” she said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the organization and the participants who use our services and certainly on our staff.”

Peddle added that she would like to see continued conversations with different levels of government to put in place a better pandemic response transition while local organizations wait for housing to be invested and built in the community.

“Yes, the hotel is an expensive solution to the homelessness crisis, but it will definitely cost the community more if we end up putting everyone on the streets,” she said. “Healthcare and that kind of stuff, we’re definitely going to see the impact. We hope to find a solution in the next few weeks so we can make this transition as soon as possible.”

Several alternate sites are under consideration, but a solution to meet the current needs and requirements of another location has yet to be confirmed.

During the pandemic, the hotel shelter model has been the only solution available that would accommodate the number of currently homeless homeless people in Barrie, a joint press release from the two organizations noted, adding that they remain both determined to seek a safe transition. solutions for shelter participants and employees of both organizations.

Although pandemic-related funding has enabled the expansion of temporary emergency shelter beds in Barrie, the lack of affordable housing options and unattainable rental rates for those experiencing poverty and homelessness in our community remain a post-pandemic crisis.

Without immediately available affordable housing or sufficient alternative emergency accommodation options, homeless people are forced to live in unprotected places, foregoing safety and food security, and will have limited access to needs. regular basic and transitional support to obtain housing.

“We believe that without a responsible and safe transition solution to support people currently in the shelter system and support from all levels of government, this crisis could lead to, not only harmful, dangerous and criminalized outcomes for marginalized people , but also much higher costs for other services such as hospitals and other emergency services,” the statement said.

The 2022 Homeless Census preliminary report indicates that 50% of the 722 people surveyed who were homeless lived in Barrie. The report also noted that 70% of those surveyed suffered from chronic homelessness,

Together, the two organizations are currently providing emergency shelter to around 170 people each night in homes and hotels. and served a total of 1,100 unique people in 2021 more than double what organizations served before the pandemic.

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