London, Ont. Out of the Cold program opens for 2021: “It’s a measure that saves lives” – London
Homeless Londoners are going to have a warm place to escape the winter weather with the launch of the City of London and Ark Aid Street Missions out of the cold.
The program, which is part of the city’s winter homelessness response plan, will provide 40 to 50 beds each night by March 31 at First St. Andrew’s Church, with hospitality spaces from day at the YMCA central branch.
Daytime reception areas will open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, and night-time rest areas will operate from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., then start opening at 8 a.m. on January 1.
The spaces will provide people with a place to stay, warm food, winter clothes, clean socks, and access to other supports they may need.
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The warm place to stay is something that people who manage the space and those who use it say it makes a big difference when the temperature drops.
Kenneth Hammond, 34, has been homeless homeless since he was 15.
“One of the biggest stresses here is where am I going to get food, when am I going to get food, where am I going to sleep, when am I going to sleep, and those four questions are taken out of there. ‘equation now,’ Hammond said.
“If I’m here at a certain time, you have a bed; if I’m here at a certain time, I get food. There are solid, set in stone, guaranteed answers, and that takes a lot of the stress out of things. “
Hammond said he gets $ 390 a month for rent and $ 370 a month for basic needs, and the $ 760 is what he has in a month to get by.
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“We’re not all here because we don’t know how to budget or have serious addiction issues, we’re not all here because we just want to be here,” Hammond said. “I shouldn’t be here.
“All you can really afford on welfare is shared housing. There’s always a personal conflict, and something will happen, and then I’m back outside. “
Looking at what options were available two years ago, Hammond says it’s day and night, with few options once the shelters are full.
“These cold Canadian winters are not good for people when it comes to frostbite, their health, their survival, and it is a saving step for people without housing,” said Sarah Campbell, Executive Director. of the Ark Aid Mission.
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This year’s winter homelessness response plan aims to meet the needs of people, both short-term and long-term housing, with the hope of working overtime to bring people into a permanent housing.
Campbell noted that while access to drop-in options for overnight stays on colder nights of last year is a priority, this year, with the help of city funding, they may offer night places every evening, all winter.
This year, she said they would hire six people who have experienced homelessness in the past to help with the program.
“The voice of lived experience makes a big difference in the way we do things. “
The total cost of the city’s winter response for hospitality spaces and extended stays will cost just over $ 1.32 million, with all costs covered by the federal Reaching Home program and provincial funding from relief to social services.
“The Winter Response Plan adds capacity across the city and uses a variety of approaches with many social service agencies to support vulnerable Londoners in our community,” says Debbie Kramers Manager, Coordinated Informed Response with City of London,
“Council has been a strong supporter of launching the Winter Response Plan and the immediate and effective use of funds to support homeless people this winter. “
Details on how to volunteer or donate to hospitality spaces can be found on the Ark Aid Mission website.
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