Search on for men’s shelter

Sal­va­tion Army hos­tel down­town now closed

The Sudbury Star - - FRONT PAGE - STAR STAFF

The city is look­ing to establish a tem­po­rary men’s shelter in con­junc­tion with the Cana­dian Mental Health As­so­ci­a­tion to ac­com­mo­date those dis­placed from the down­town Sal­va­tion Army hos­tel.

The New Life Cen­tre, housed in an ag­ing build­ing on Larch Street and tak­ing in about 20 peo­ple at a time, closed Fri­day af­ter serv­ing those in need for more than 60 years.

Bruce Shirran, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the cen­tre, ear­lier told The Star that bud­get con­straints and grow­ing main­te­nance costs no longer made the shelter vi­able, while stress­ing the Sal­va­tion Army would con­tinue to op­er­ate its fa­cil­ity on Cedar Street for women, par­ents and chil­dren, as well as its thrift store on Notre Dame Av­enue.

In a re­port presented at a Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Com­mit­tee meet­ing on Mon­day, staff said ef­forts have been made to cre­ate an­other op­tion for the home­less men af­fected by the cen­tre’s clo­sure.

“Staff ap­proached the two other shelter ser­vice providers within Greater Sud­bury — L’as­so­ci­a­tion des je­unes de la rue (AJR) and the Cana­dian Mental Health As­so­ci­a­tion Sud­bury-Man­i­toulin (CMHA)— to look for an al­ter­na­tive solution to meet this gap,” the re­port states.

“While AJR was not able to pro­vide this ser­vice, the CMHA are will­ing to work with staff to de­velop a tem­po­rary solution.”

The re­port says CMHA is plan­ning to open a “tem­po­rary low-bar­rier shelter that pro­vides ser­vices for up to 20 in­di­vid­u­als aged 18 and older who iden­tify as male, and to in­di­vid­u­als who iden­tify with­out a gen­der (non-bi­nary) who feel com­fort­able stay­ing in a men’s shelter.”

This pro­gram would be run nightly from 10 p.m.-8 a.m., and “of­fer a safe en­vi­ron­ment, warm cots for sleep­ing, light snacks and re­fresh­ments.”

A site has not been pub­licly iden­ti­fied but staff said “fi­nal ar­range­ments are be­ing made for a suit­able lo­ca­tion in the com­mu­nity.”

The plan would be to op­er­ate this tem­po­rary pro­gram from early June to the end of Oc­to­ber, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, at which point the Off the Street Low Bar­rier Shelter would open in the former po­lice sta­tion at 200 Larch Street that is un­der­go­ing renovations.

“In line with the shelter re­view rec­om­men­da­tions, the Off the Street Low Bar­rier Shelter will move to a year-round model of op­er­a­tion, and will pro­vide a low-bar­rier, housing-focused ap­proach to all gen­ders,” reads the re­port.

Un­der a fund­ing agree­ment with the city, the Sal­va­tion Army had been pro­vid­ing up to 22 beds for home­less men aged 20 and older, with an oc­cu­pancy rate of 75 per cent last year, staff said.

The city has a man­date from the prov­ince “to co­or­di­nate and/or de­liver programming to re­duce or pre­vent home­less­ness,” the re­port in­di­cates, with fund­ing pro­vided by the Min­istry of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and Housing through the Com­mu­nity Home­less­ness Pre­ven­tion Ini­tia­tive.

The city also “con­trib­utes ad­di­tional mu­nic­i­pal funds to the an­nu­al­ized al­lo­ca­tion and fur­ther re­ceives fed­eral fund­ing aimed at pre­vent­ing and re­duc­ing home­less­ness,” while work­ing with com­mu­nity groups to “pro­vide pro­grams that sup­port peo­ple who are home­less or at risk of home­less­ness in­clud­ing emer­gency shelter pro­grams for men, women and fam­i­lies and youth.”

An eval­u­a­tion of the city’s emer­gency shelter sys­tem was com­pleted last year, the re­port states, with “a goal to re­ceive rec­om­men­da­tions to­ward es­tab­lish­ing a mod­ern­ized shelter sys­tem with eq­ui­table fund­ing mod­els and core ser­vice lev­els that fit well with other com­mu­nity ser­vices.”

On March 18, a re­port was also presented to the Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Com­mit­tee with rec­om­men­da­tions for “right-sizing the shelter sys­tem,” and the goal over the next year is to “move to a well-co­or­di­nated, housing-focused and out­come-based shelter sys­tem.”

This would in­clude a year­round adult shelter for peo­ple of any gen­der aged 25 and older at the Off The Street Shelter at 200 Larch St.

In the mean­time, staff said they will con­tinue to work with the CMHA to open a tem­po­rary men’s emer­gency shelter pro­gram.

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