Consequences of homelessness in the extreme cold
Extreme cold alerts are in place from Greater Sudbury’s homeless network.
As you can imagine, shelters and warming centres were busy, as bone chilling temperatures in the region drive some of the most vulnerable residents to seek a reprieve from the cold.
Just how many people are affected?
"Some 400 plus chronically homeless persons in Sudbury, with some 1,300 at risk of homelessness." said Raymond Landry, of Sudbury’s Homelessness Network.
Landry’s organization has issued an extreme cold weather alert.
"And what that does is it enacts various different services such as warming centres." said Landry.
The Elgin Street Mission at the Samaritan Centre is extending its hours to give people a place to stay warm.
“People come in here and just sit and have coffee, tea. They're starting to come in like really, really, quite a few people are coming in." said Gerry Penfold, of Elgin Street Mission.
Penfold says on a day with extreme temperatures they serve about 300 cups of coffee.
Mission staff members say that they went through two large cans of coffee and 25 pounds of sugar during extended hours on Sunday.
And they rely on donations to serve the local homeless.
The alert has the Off The Street Emergency Shelter busy too.
Officials say they are accommodating almost 40 people a night in the basement of Christ the King Church on Ste. Anne Road.
"They can offer more cots, more spaces for people to stay on a nightly basis."
Landry says the network has issued about 30 alerts this winter, a similar number to last year.
He worries about how all this cold, winter weather will impact people on the street.
"Frostbite. Persons with chronic diseases such as diabetes, persons who may be overconsuming alcohol, may lower their body temperatures quicker than normal." said Landry.
But these dangers don't just affect the homeless.
Those who have a home, but can't afford the heating bill could be in trouble too.
"We can see issues when a house is kept below sixteen degrees Celsius, so at that temperature, you can see things like growth of mould." said Laurie Dagg-Labine, a public health nurse.
Dozens of people have been coming in and out of the Samaritan Centre trying to stay warm.
But despite all that help, more is always needed.
Homelessness Network partners say they need more donations and more volunteers to keep up with demand.