Photo by Liz West via FlickrPhoto by Liz West via Flickr

Change to Huron County winter shelters means 24/7 availablity

Shelter from the cold will be available around the clock this winter for Huron County's most vulnerable population.

County council and CMHA Huron Perth Addiction and Mental Health Services entered into a service agreement to operate another cold weather shelter in Goderich, this time as a motel model.

In the past, Out of the Cold operated overnight at the Lakeshore United Church. This year, the shelter will operate 24/7, including having CMHA on-site support staff throughout the week.

Warden Glen McNeil says they're trying the new approach in hopes that it will lead to permanent housing solutions.

"Homelessness is a situation that is everywhere across Canada and the world," he said. "Huron County has the initiative to try to both acknowledge that it exists here and we're trying do something about it to assist those who find themselves in this situation."

Staff have not finalized a location for the emergency shelter, but have included some details of what will be provided:

- Emergency temporary shelter from November 2023 to April 2024

- 7 days per week, 24 hours per day shelter.

- On-site staff support Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and 24 hour on-call support.

- Intake will be managed by CMHA Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In addition, emergency intake opportunities will remain available.

- Guests will have access to a drop-in centre, hot meals, peer support volunteers, life skills development opportunities, and more.

The cost of the shelter has also not been finalized as McNeil says they continue to explore grant funding.

"Staff are engaging with the motel to work out the details on this and we're very appreciative of this collaboration... We need to collaborate with other levels of government to provide financial support to make this possible," he said.

To find out more about the county's housing programs, visit its website.

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