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Short on funds and shelter beds, Winter Response to Homelessness could leave many Londoners in tents

Many Londoners living in encampments will have to survive this winter outdoors after city hall had difficulty securing enough overnight shelter spaces.

A report to the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee (SPPC) asked city council to choose from four locations that could provide a total of 120 overnight shelter beds until May 31 at a combined cost of $3 million.

However, the city has one-time funding of just $1.8 million.

“We are looking for council direction on which options they want to choose, but at this point, we don’t have enough existing budget to address all four,” explained Kevin Dickins, deputy city manager of social and health development.

Ark Aid Street Mission has proposed operating:

  • 30 beds at The Ark in the Old East Village ($826,686)
  • 65 beds at 432 William St. ($1,472,739)
  • 15 beds at the CMHA Coffee House on Hamilton Road ($404,323)
  • 10 beds at CMHA My Sisters Place on Dundas Street ($335,216)

Some of the 600 high-needs individuals living unsheltered are expected to secure winter lodging with family or friends, but the number of winter beds available would still fall short of demand.

Outreach support to encampments will evolve to include cold weather resources like hand/boot warmers and blankets.

“We will have to keep turning our minds, as we have been for the last couple months, on what we are doing to support those that will not be coming indoors or that will remain outdoors for a period of time until they find a way to move indoors,” added Dickins.

The planning stages for a temporary Cold Weather Response began in July as part of London’s Whole of Community Response to Homelessness.

Thirty-one meetings were held with local agency leaders/operators to explore and request additional services this winter.

Civic Administration considered repurposing the Bob Hayward YMCA building after it closes Nov. 27.

However, agencies were unwilling and unable to operate the space with 100 beds, and a modified plan for 65 beds also drew no interest.

“It’s a great space for us to consider, we did consider it to the fullest extent,” Dickins told CTV News London. “We did try ways to make it work, and at this point we just want council to know this isn’t for a lack of trying.”

Council members will consider how many of the (up to) 120 winter shelter beds it will fund at the SPPC meeting on Tuesday. Top Stories

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