Concern for homeless grows as frigid winter weather sets in
On cold winter days, the work to assist the homeless is non-stop and around the clock, according to those doing outreach work.
“It’s supposed to dip to -25 or worse by Saturday night,” said Nathan Doucet, who is with Out of the Cold Community Association in Halifax.
Doucet adds the primary focus for the agency is to provide emergency gear for those living outside in harsh conditions.
“Trying to get more blankets to people, and sometimes we are passing out pallets to people so we can help them secure a tent, or another kind of structure on top of those and to get them five or six inches off the ground,” said Doucet.
The chief development officer at Souls Harbour Rescue Mission says the organization operates based on a foundational belief.
“What happens to the least of us happens to all of us,” said Ron Dunn.
Souls Harbour does not have the capacity to house the homeless during winter weather.
“I think days like this remind us of our humanity and why we need to do we do more," said Dunn. "I’m cold standing here on the street corner for a moment and there are people outside 24 hours a day.”
The organization offers about 200 meals a day at its Halifax location, plus free winter clothing.
“If they need hats or mittens or scarves or stuff, like that, just ring the bell and our staff will help them out,” said Dunn.
According to Meredith Cowan, with the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, additional shelters have been opened around the HRM.
“We have 20 beds at Dartmouth Christ Church, 20 beds in Lower Sackville and 40 beds at North Park Street,” said Cowan.
Even more beds will also be added to those locations this weekend.
“We are seeing more and more supportive housing units be provided," said Cowan. "We are also seeing more and more service providers coming to the table with both ideas and resources.”
Doucet wants multiple levels of government to step forward even more and find a solution.
“We are get calls from people every day who are losing their indoor space," said Doucet. "Often from apartments and they are evicted into the street.”
Which means Doucet doesn’t anticipate the situation improving in the short term, during the dead of winter.
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