The City’s warming centre has recently opened and officials have said they have had a steady stream of people utilize the service each day.
The warming centre opened on Nov. 6th and is located on the same property as Safe Harbour at 5246 53rd Ave. The centre is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and sees between 50-60 people each day. The capacity of the warming centre is about 100 people.
“The warming centre is a place to keep people warm, but also a place where people can become connected with other service providers primarily around housing but also income supports or addictions treatment or whatever it is that they need to move forward,” said Stacey Carmichael, director of programming for Safe Harbour.
She added those using the warming centre are grateful that the service is available.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to wander around in this weather to get my basic needs met. These people are hopeful that there are better things to come. There is a lot of hope despite their hardships. Our staff are always encouraging them and having them think about housing and trying to provide them with that avenue,” said Carmichael.
Safe Harbour also offers a day support site on location for those who are homeless and not well.
“Homeless folks unfortunately can have injuries or be sick, so they can come in and have a nice warm place to lay down and get better.”
She added in addition to the warming centre, the community’s emergency response has been to increase the beds at People’s Place. “We have been seeing those numbers getting to capacity over the last few nights. We go from 35 beds to 46 beds during the wintertime at People’s.”
Safe Harbour also operates a MATS program which offers 26 mats for those who are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.
“We have been turning people away from our MATS program and we had one empty bed at People’s (Monday night). We are looking after people well during the day but our overnight shelters are bursting at the seams. Adequate housing is really what is needed.”
Meanwhile, Carmichael said Safe Harbour has seen the effects with the downturn of the economy in the province.
“As people get laid off, it takes a month or two and they end up with us. I’m not sure how much of an increase we’ve seen, we would have to take a look at those numbers. But it seems that the economy is tough for folks no matter what.”
The warming centre will be open seven days a week until April.