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Shelter opens in Temiskaming Shores, led by a couple whose son struggled with homelessness

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Years of hard work by a couple in Temiskaming Shores is about to pay off.

Yves and Lianne Paillé led the charge to open the community’s first homeless shelter after their son Zack faced homelessness and struggled with mental health in 2018.

As a father, it hurt Paillé because he couldn't find shelter services for him.

"We were basically hitting a brick wall all the time when it came to finding him help," he said.

"Or there were times we had to kick him out of the house because the home wasn't a safe place."

The experience inspired them to open the first emergency shelter in the area to help families and individuals who face similar situations.

They rallied support from the community to get it going.

"We can waste all our energy and be mad at the government and be mad at the services and be angry -- or we can do something about it," Yves said.

After five years of hard work, 'Zack's Crib,' named after their son, is almost ready to open in the space of a former laundromat on Broadwood Avenue.

The facility has 12 regular beds plus an additional bed reserved for people who need to go into quarantine.

"Before, if people needed a place to sleep that didn't have a home, they would have to travel to either North Bay or to Timmins," said shelter director Cindy Dube.

The shelter's board is hoping to have the building ready for clients sometime in mid-December. Two full-time staff, four part-time and some casual staff are currently in orientation and training.

Years of hard work by a couple in Temiskaming Shores is about to pay off. Yves and Lianne Paillé led the charge to open the community’s first homeless shelter after their son Zack faced homelessness and struggled with mental health in 2018. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

"Some are social workers, some are PSWs and some have varied health experience," said Dube.

Zack's Crib will be run on a first-come, first-served basis where people are triaged before being admitted. It will be open Monday-Friday from 10 p.m.-8 am. On weekends, it will be open 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Breakfast will be provided and there is a faith room and a health room for doctors and nurses to provide basic medical care or checkups.

Mark Stewart, CAO of the District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board, said about 24 people are currently homeless in the area.

"A facility about the size of Zack's Crib with 12 safe beds will be a good start,” Stewart said.

“We intend to keep funding Zack's Crib from an operational standpoint. Of course, that's contingent on the provincial budget that needs to be approved."

Yves said their journey has been a labour of love to provide support to people who need it, in his son's name.

"We're ecstatic that this really happened and we're pinching ourselves, like did we really do this?" 

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