Safe N' Sound's Connie Mckay (left) and the Grey Bruce Health Unit's Laurie Moore (Kirk Scott photo) Safe N' Sound's Connie Mckay (left) and the Grey Bruce Health Unit's Laurie Moore (Kirk Scott photo)

Owen Sound homeless shelter extends hours

Unsheltered homeless people now have an overnight shelter to escape the cold during the winter in Owen Sound.

Safe 'N Sound Grey Bruce is extending its hours with an Overnight Warming Program at 310 8th Street East in Owen Sound, which will be open until March 31, 2024.

"In Grey County, there's approximately 40 unsheltered people," said Executive Director Annette Pedlar. "So there's certainly a need for people to find a space inside and at the core of all of Safe "N Sound 's work is really harm reduction."

"We're just trying to look at all of the harm that's incurring in somebody's life and just mitigate as much of that as we can," explained Pedlar. "And not just the political side understanding of harm reduction of about, about our about drug paraphernalia and stuff that we give out but also about people sleeping outside and their health and how we can help support people with with all those different things that can incur harm."

“It is our hope that through the coldest months we can provide access to our space, trained staff and resources to prevent the unnecessary harm associated with homelessness in rural winters," she continued. "Safe 'N Sound is a proud member of the Owen Sound community and we are eager to support our most marginalized neighbours.”

The program will provide a safe resting place, warm clothing, washrooms, laundry, showers, food, and drink.

"In total, we have the capacity for 18 people," explained Pedlar. "And so we recognize that we might not be able to serve everybody, but we're really hoping to still be a point of contact for lots of our unsheltered community members."

Grey County contributed $150,000 to help pay for support staff, security, and operating funds for the pilot project.

"We either pay through our hospital system, through our justice system, through by law and police officers, through our parks department for cleaning up parks, or we fund something like Safe N' Sound for a space for people to go," stated Pedlar. "So I'm really excited. And hoping that we can see positive results for a cost saving for people because those other services aren't needing to be as heavily taxed by the unsheltered community members that we have."

Staff will be collecting data on the demographics of those using the centre and the services they use, as well as identifying any service gaps. This information will be used to inform recommendations for the project in future years.

“The services provided by Safe 'N Sound are a great asset to our community,” said Josh Gibson, Manager of Housing Programs at Grey County. “This expanded program will provide increased safety for vulnerable Grey County residents during the cold winter months.”

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