Extreme cold taxes space at Thunder Bay shelter

The extreme cold weather we've had this week can be particularly hard on Thunder Bay's most vulnerable people.
Shelter House's new outreach program has been providing coffee, blankets, and other comforts to the homeless since it began last Friday, but the extreme cold is forcing homeless people to seek shelter indoors.

The extreme cold weather we've had this week can be particularly hard on Thunder Bay's most vulnerable people.

The executive assistant and human resources co-ordinator for Shelter House said the shelter has been filled to capacity for months. But Crystal DePeuter said it's especially hard to turn people away when the weather is so harsh.

"With such extreme temperatures, things like illness and exposure ... really affect this community,” she said.

“In the extreme cold you have different people coming through that you wouldn't normally see."

Crystal DePeuter of Thunder Bay's Shelter House says it's especially hard to turn people away when the weather is so harsh. (Adam Burns/CBC)

DePeuter said Shelter House's cold weather project has been successful since it began last Friday.

The program sends staff out into the street to provide coffee, blankets, and other comforts to the homeless.

"That's the idea behind the outreach … [to offer] different modes of transportation to Salvation Army or to other places that may be able to help some people," she said. "So ... when we are at capacity there is something else we can do besides saying ‘no’ at the door."

DePeuter said that during the summer months, some people prefer to stay outside.

“They have their own communities that they prefer to stay in. But, when you do get these extreme temperatures, we'll find more people coming and requesting shelter," she said.

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