New shelter opens for homeless Ottawa youth

A new youth shelter is opening for one night a week for homeless youth in Ottawa, spearheaded by a local street outreach worker.
Jason Pino has worked as a street outreach worker for 10 years and he's openining a youth shelter in Ottawa. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

A new shelter for homeless Ottawa youth opens tonight in the basement of First Baptist Church at the intersection of Elgin Street and Laurier Avenue West.

Jason Pino, who has worked for a decade as a street outreach worker, spearheaded the six-bed shelter that will open one night per week.

Pino said he wanted to create a space for homeless men who were either too old for youth shelters, such as Operation Come Home, or too young for adult shelters, such as The Mission or the Shepherds of Good Hope.

"We wanted them to feel like they're in a home environment as much as possible," he told the CBC's Hallie Cotnam.

"We want to help bring hope to them so that they feel inspired to make some of the bigger changes that they want to make in their life."

The shelter will only be available on Friday nights and it will open on a first-come, first-served basis with six twin beds and matching blue plaid comforters.

First Baptist Church Rev. Scott Kindred-Barnes said he fully supported Pino's idea, offering the space for one night a week.

"Part of our faith is to take our faith out in the world and this fits well with what the church is about," said Kindred-Barnes.

Pino will supervise the shelter with other volunteers and he said the beds will be rolled away in the morning for weekend church activities.

But for one night, Pino said he hopes the young men will have a temporary home before they eventually find their own.

With files from the CBC's Hallie Cotnam