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Daytime shelter expected to open this week

A daytime shelter for the area’s homeless population is slated to open this week next to the current overnight shelter on Chippewa Street.

The daytime facility will be in the basement of the old OPP headquarters still on the lot. It will feature a kitchenette, individual washrooms with showers along with on-site staff.

Mark King, chair of the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board, says the daytime facility provides another place for people to get out of the winter conditions.

“It will provide support for people who are in the adjacent building at the low-barrier shelter,” he said. “While this is open, there will be a number of people on site to help people.”

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The daytime shelter was scheduled to open on Tuesday morning, but King says there was a “hiccup” during the final bits of construction.

The plan is to have the facility open from 8 am to 8 pm (the opposite hours of the overnight shelter), from Monday to Friday. It will be able to accommodate up to 16 people at a time under current COVID-19 protocols.

The Indigenous Friendship Centre has also begun offering daytime services on the weekends to get people out of the cold.

According to King, between the Friendship Centre and the new daytime shelter on Chippewa Street, there will be somewhere for the area’s homeless to go any time during the day, seven days a week.

“There’s no question in my mind that this is the best possible solution we could find,” King explained. “Although extremely expensive, the hope is to somehow alleviate the problems on the street of the city and the surrounding areas.”

King did not have the exact numbers of how much it will cost to operate the new shelter.

Looking ahead, King says DNSSAB is in the process of building 16 transitional housing units above the daytime shelter, which he anticipates will be done in the coming months.

DNSSAB has also applied for funding through the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative. The $1-billion program aims to build 3,000 affordable housing units across the country in the next year.

King says he and area MPs are scheduled to meet in the coming days to discuss what the money could potentially be used for.

“The intent now is to try and find mechanisms to provide affordable homes,” he said.

And King believes the supports being put in place now could continue to help people as the economic impacts of the pandemic are being felt.

“A lot of what we’re seeing is a direct result of people not being able to keep up with the ongoing demand revolving around the sheer cost of living,” he said.

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