A homeless drop-in centre for First Nations, Inuit and Metis people operated by the Odawa Native Friendship Centre is closing next month after its application for funding was rejected by the city.
The Shawenjeagamik Aboriginal Drop-In Centre at 510 Rideau St. has been in operation for about 10 years and will close on March 31.
"We ... have clients that are fighting to stay straight. They come here during the day because they don't want to be on the street," said Carrie Diabo, the co-ordinator at the drop-in centre. "We ... have some people that can't afford their own food after they pay their bills, so they'll come here for a meal."
The centre is funded by the city with money provided by the federal government.
About 18 months ago the federal government instituted new rules for funding breakdowns requiring 65 per cent of the money to go toward providing housing, according to Aaron Burry, the city's general manager of community and social services.
'We're ... making sure that they're housed first,' city says
"Rather than providing monies for people to stay on the streets, what we're actually doing is making sure that they're housed first," Burry said.
"Again, there's other programs in the city and our focus isn't actually to have people gathering in day programs, it's actually to put them into housing supports."
Diabo said the centre also helps aboriginal people with housing.
"We have those that do have housing, but they're by themselves so they'll come here for companionship," she told Ottawa Morning on Wednesday.
Overall funding for the community has not been cut, Burry said, adding that the centre's bid for funding wasn't competitive enough in the peer review process.
Still, the centre is calling on the city to reinstate the drop-in's funding.