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Council shuts door to funding extension for SafeSpace London’s shelter serving homeless women

An undated image of SafeSpace London’s shelter in the Old East Village. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London) An undated image of SafeSpace London’s shelter in the Old East Village. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)
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SafeSpace London will not be given an opportunity to appear before a council committee to request a $130,000 extension to the shelter funding it receives from city hall.

On Tuesday, council was divided over permitting representatives from the women’s homeless shelter to appear before the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee (SPPC) on May 28, three days before temporary municipal funding runs out.

The agency that describes itself as serving sex workers, their accomplices (allies), women, and gender non-conforming people has been operating 15 municipally funded shelter spaces at the corner of Dundas and Lyle Streets for more than a year.

Coun. Susan Stevenson, who represents the Old East Village (OEV), reminded council that the location was intended to be temporary.

She urged council not to stall the inevitable need to secure a new location.

“I think it’s fair to the community, to the women that it serves, to the people that work there, and to the agency itself, to make a decision today so people know what’s going on, rather than drag it on,” Stevenson told colleagues.

However, Coun. Anna Hopkins wanted to give the agency an opportunity to request a funding extension until July 31, similar to an extension provided to Ark Aid Street Mission’s shelter.

“This motion is a referral to hear from SafeSpace. I appreciate everyone’s comments here, but I want to hear from them,” Hopkins said.

Although municipal funding is slated to expire May 31, city staff assured council there was enough unspent money to act as bridge funding should council need to make a final decision at its meeting June 4.

But the motion lost on a tie vote, 7-7, with Coun. Elizabeth Peloza absent.

Mayor Josh Morgan supported allowing SafeSpace to appear as a delegation later this month, but said he must respect council’s decision.

“The funding was extended to May 31 [from March 31] and I’m hopeful that has given them some time to adjust their services,” Morgan told CTV News. ”I was not in the majority [of] the vote today. It’s unfortunate that council chose not to proceed with that motion, but you know, the will of council proceeds.”

Meanwhile, council unanimously supported a $687,000 funding extension to Ark Aid Street Mission’s 24/7 shelter until July 31 so city staff have time to analyze the agency’s proposal to offer year-round services.

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