Economy, Jobs, Health
Region approves temporary winter overnight drop-in to address overflow in shelter use
Waterloo Region’s Community Services Committee has approved a temporary winter overnight drop-in as an option when emergency shelters reach capacity.
Approved on Tuesday, the drop-in at St. Matthews Lutheran Church will be operated by the House of Friendship and will accommodate an increase in adult shelter numbers that typically show up during the winter season. Right now numbers have been higher than the previous year, so shelters are at capacity and motels are being used for overflow.
“Our shelter system is designed to ensure everyone has a warm place to sleep,” said Deb Schlichter, Director of Housing Services. “The cost of motels is manageable when it is for an occasional increase. They are too costly to use to address a significant and constant increase.”
The drop-in will cost the Region $85,000 to operate, whereas using motels for overflow (if the increase continued) could cost as much as $290,000. Also, motels are not always close to shelters, making it challenging to transport people back and forth for meals and supports.
The drop-in, to be operated by trained, emergency shelter staff, will accommodate up to 70 adults and be open every night from January 15 to April 30. Schlichter hopes staff will also be able to further understand the variables influencing the increase in adult shelter numbers.
While the nightly occupancy was down for the first half of 2017 from the previous year, that number has significantly increased since September. The City of Toronto is dealing with a similar rise and has opened more emergency shelters in response.