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HomeNewsLow-barrier shelter gets more beds as homeless population grows

Low-barrier shelter gets more beds as homeless population grows

The District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board has announced that it will be providing an additional nine beds to a homeless shelter on Chippewa Street.

Mark King, board chair of DNSSAB, says that he’s proud of the timeliness of the beds.

“From a construction and re-purposing perspective, this has been happening very quickly even though it was hoped the extra spaces would be available tomorrow,” he said in a statement.

The beds are expected to be available within a week, according to a release from DNSSAB, adding that a third portable is being renovated to provide the extra space.

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The increase in beds comes days after a group of homeless people pitched tents outside of city hall to protest a lack of spots in the city’s shelters.

The protest came to a head-on Tuesday when a city bylaw officer ordered the tents to be dismantled, which they eventually were.

Shane Moyer, the organizer of the demonstration said in an earlier interview “I’m in for the long haul. Until everybody is in and out of the cold and housed, I’m here,” he said.

Moyer has indicated that he is working on more demonstrations as he says there are currently 130 people on the streets of North Bay.

“The crisis centre is full, the warming centre isn’t completed yet and it’s getting colder. I almost suffered from hypothermia last night,” Moyer said on Tuesday.

Moyer isn’t the only one who has noticed a recent uptick in homeless people in the city. The Gathering Place – which provides free meals to people in need – has also seen an increase in people who need its services in the past few weeks.

Dennis Chippa, Executive Director of the Gathering Place, says that the program saw a spike in clients at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We anticipated them (the numbers) to drop, but they haven’t,” Chippa said. “In fact, they’ve actually gone up.”

According to its Facebook page, the Gathering Place gave out an average of 254 meals a day in September. Chippa says before the pandemic, the highest number of meals they would give out was between 150 and 175. He thinks that the fall and winter months will see the numbers continue to climb.

“I think that’s why we’re seeing an increase in numbers – a lot of folks who have just hung on all summer long have just had enough and they need to come in and get some help,” Chippa said.

Chris Mayne, a board member for DNSSAB says that the board is attempting to address the heightened need for beds in the community.

“We’re trying to work with the existing inventory of homes we have in the community but understand that there just aren’t enough overall accommodations within the city,” Mayne said, adding that the pandemic has altered the capacity of shelters which would normally be relied upon.

The announcement from DNSSAB states: “There are other shelter spaces available in the community for those needing a warm place to stay, including the Crisis Centre of North Bay, as well as four additional district shelters for women fleeing domestic violence.”

There will also be a 16-bed warming shelter on Chippewa St. which is currently under construction.

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