Several dozen people are now camping on municipal property after the Warming Room homeless shelter in Peterborough abruptly closed on Sunday.
According to Warming Room director Christian Harvey, the shelter was unable to renew its lease at the Murray Street Baptist Church after a five-year deal expired. The closure saw about 40 people forced to pack their belongings and leave the building on Sunday.
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“We spent most of June trying to search for a new location where we could operate the Warming Room,” said Harvey.
A representative with the church told Global Peterborough the church had infrastructure projects that could no longer be put off and that the shelter space was required.
The closure means some displaced residents are now camping at nearby Victoria Park across from city hall.
Among them is Dylan Warde.
“I’m just trying to find housing, but it’s a little difficult here in town, especially with raised prices and everything,” he told Global News Peterborough.
Dorothy Olver, manager of homelessness and addictions services with the city’s social services division, says efforts continue to help the displaced.
“We have staff at the One Roof Community Centre as well, as they’ll do outreach to people who are tenting outside to try to connect them to programs and services,” she said. “We currently have 20 beds available between the emergency shelter programs so Brock Mission, Cameron House and the YES Shelter for Youth and Families all have beds available.”
Eleven out of the 40 individuals displaced from the Warming Room have found housing in those shelters, but to Warde and others, the shelters are simply not an option.
“I’m not comfortable in a lot of the places due to the use of drugs or alcohol in a lot of the buildings and I’m an ex-addict of about six years,” he said. “It’s few and far between when finding somewhere I’m comfortable living.”
In the meantime, officials with the Warming Room are still holding out hope that they will find another location to lease. If they get lucky, a bigger problem still persists.
“Finding another location to the Warming Room is not an answer to homelessness,” said Harvey, the shelter director. “As a community, we need to create more housing for people, and it can’t just be any housing. It has to be safe housing; it has to be housing that’s affordable for people.”
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