Volunteer-run homeless shelter in Sudbury forced to close
SUDBURY -- It’s been a rough couple weeks for volunteers and residents at Hope for Sudbury.
The 24-hour shelter on Regent Street currently houses 24 homeless people. Last week, city officials told Paul Temelini, owner of the building, that $800,000 in renovations is needed to keep the shelter operating.
Monday evening, Hope for Sudbury Volunteers met with the city and were told they must start closing the shelter beginning Friday.
“They would like us to release the 24 people who are here back into the system that’s in place,” said Hope for Sudbury founder Richard Pacey. “Which is standing back in line for the warming stations and the shelter.”
Pacey told CTV News so far six of the 24 residents have left the shelter and are back living in tents.
Other residents are hoping a solution is found before Friday and said they are very concerned about what will happen.
“I started doing the right things and now I’m allowed in here -- it’s the best place I could be right now,” said a homeless man named Nicholas Mitchell.
'It needs to be here'
“They give you food, they give you clothes they give you everything you need. There’s people to talk to, everything. I don’t see anything wrong with this building. It needs to be here, these people need to be able to help us because it’s the best thing for these people.”
One volunteer at Hope for Sudbury is a former resident of the shelter. She said it would be “heartbreaking” if the 24-hour warming centre ends up closing.
“I stayed here for over a week, and now I’m back here volunteering. It would be heartbreaking if all these people staying here had to go back on the streets,” said Kirstin Birk.
City officials said they are working with Hope for Sudbury to ensure all 24 residents find somewhere to stay.
“We have 110 spaces for overnight for people to stay in the downtown core between emergency shelters and warming stations,” said Gail Spencer, the city's coordinator for Homelessness and Shelters.
“We also have 96 spaces in the day for people to access daytime warming centres. We have a total of 65 beds available at our emergency shelter programs and for that last three weeks, they haven’t been full.
“We are hoping to be able to engage with everyone and get them connected to the right service.”
But Hope for Sudbury organizers are worried the services they offer won’t be accessible through the city. Recovery meetings, yoga, drumming sessions, arts and crafts, and more are offered at Hope for Sudbury.
“These are things that typically the addict would have to go out and seek themselves," said volunteer Jehnna Morin. "We brought it to them, so will those be available once they are transitioned out if here?”
Although the city has empty beds at shelters downtown, Spencer said their main goal is for people to have short stays at shelters and to help them find housing.
“Shelters should be for a short brief stay -- people shouldn’t be living in shelters,” she said.
“All of our shelters should be focusing on housing, certainly connecting to those other types of programs and supports in the community but focusing on housing first.”