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YMCA opens its doors to community members in need

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While the YMCA is not being used for gatherings or events right now, it is being put to good use in another way.

The District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DNSSAB), Nipissing Mental Health Housing and Support Services (NMHHSS), the City of North Bay, and the Nipissing District Housing Corporation (NDHC) are working together to open an Emergency Homelessness Shelter at the facility. The hope is to have it open by Wednesday.

“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to work collaboratively in our community to find a site and system that will work with all the necessary protections in place to prevent further spread of the virus,” says DNSSAB Chair, Mark King.

The shelter will be set up in the main gymnasium at the YMCA. The gym has access to bathrooms and showers and will be used to provide shelter 24/7. Up to 40 people will be allowed, including staff.

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“Those who experience homelessness may be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 or developing complications due to COVID-19, as they may not be able to access and use traditional services and standard resources,” said Mary Davis, Executive Director of NMHHSS “These circumstances may affect their ability to follow public health advice, such as being able to effectively isolate or self/isolate from others and perform proper hand hygiene.”

According to Nipissing DSSAB, COVID-19 protocols say four staff and one security person on site for 24 hours. Entry will be permitted only to essential service providers and people using the site. There will be one entrance, appropriate fire exits, protocols including social distancing, hygiene and isolation protocols in place.

“We know that the most vulnerable in our community need our help. This site is extremely important for the health and safety of our homeless population,” says NDHC Chair, Dave Mendicino.

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