Warming centre still looking for a home

Time is ticking on a place for homeless people to stay warm during the winter days.

Time is ticking on a place for homeless people to stay warm during the winter days.

Kath Hoffman, Safe Harbour’s executive director, said she was disappointed that council recently nixed a proposed temporary daytime warming site at 4934-54th Ave. in Riverlands, but she is confident a place will be secured before the snow falls.

She said she understands there are processes in place that must be followed and is encouraged that everyone in Red Deer wants to make sure there is a place for people to stay warm this winter.

The plan is to have the daylight centre open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.

But enough time will be necessary to have staff in place and trained.

“We are hoping a solution will be found right away that will make everyone happy,” she said. “We are working hard on that and so is the city. Everybody has been going full on in trying to find a spot for us. We recognize the reality of when Safe Harbour comes, there might be more people around. There may be, but it will also be a place for those people to go into and staff right there to help.”

She said a big part of the criteria for a warming centre is its location to services and amenities.

“We have to consider people will be walking and it will be 30 below,” said Hoffman. “How far are they going to have to walk? It has to be easily accessible by foot. It can’t be too far away from where that food is and all of that. That’s a big criteria that has to be met.”

Hoffman said appropriate shelter space for the community is a big part of the plan to end homelessness.

“They are an ‘in the meantime’ solution as they are waiting for housing and as they are waiting for those resources,” she said. “Shelters are necessary and the appropriate space for this community is necessary.”

Earlier this week Safe Harbour received $45,427 in provincial funding through the city to add 11 more overnight beds at People’s Place on top of its 35 existing beds between Nov. 1 and April 30, 2016.

“What we know internally at Safe Habour is working on a long-term solution to this so we aren’t putting on these Band-Aids at the last minute every year,” said Hoffman. “We know that for sure and that is a process and it takes time. At the same time we are working on the short-term solutions.”

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