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London Cares closing homeless drop-in service next month as funding runs out

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The desperate need for essential services will still exist— but soon the funding will not.

CTV News has learned that London Cares will be closing its drop-in service at 602 Queens Ave. on March 31 when short-term funding from the city’s Winter Response to Homelessness runs out.

Each day, 50 to 75 Londoners experiencing homelessness come to London Cares for a shower, to do laundry, and meet other basic needs.

“It’s everything! We need that!” pleaded 40-year-old Allison, who has been in-and-out of homelessness for a decade.

A disability amplifies her dependence on the clean, safe bathroom and shower.

“As a completely blind 40-year-old female, you need them. You really need them!” she said.

In a statement, London Cares wrote, “This program was funded under short-term winter response and cold weather funding which is coming to an end.”

Coun. Susan Stevenson said the situation creates uncertainty in the neighbourhood.

“Uncertainty for the homeless people looking for service, where are they going to get it?” Stevenson asked rhetorically. “And what does it mean for the rest of the community? Where are people going to go?”

The same funding is also being used for on-site security guards.

London Cares said it will explore how to manage safety on the property within its limited budget.

St. Joseph’s Café will continue to provide food on site, and the partnership of agencies will also remain at 602 Queens Ave.

The building was recently renovated and collaborative services for Londoners experiencing homelessness began in January 2023.

“I’m assuming there was a plan for some stability in that service, and so that brings up a lot of questions,” Stevenson told CTV News.

Last week, city council endorsed a $35.7 million two-year contract with seven homeless shelters (including London Cares) to avoid a service gap until the Whole of Community Response to Homelessness is expanded.

“We just renewed the contracts [with] a large increase, and for two years, in order to sustain and create stability within our emergency shelter system and in homelessness services while the hubs are being stood up,” Stevenson said.

In its statement, London Cares added, “We will be connecting with key stakeholders in the near future to determine how we might best fit within the Health and Homelessness Whole of Community Response.”

Allison believes the showers also serve a role in solving homelessness when people are ready to become tenants.

“If you get a housing viewing, you need to look the part to get the part. But without proper hygiene they’re not going to think twice about you,” she said.

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