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Thunder Bay cold snap brings rise in shelter occupants

The executive director at Thunder Bay's Shelter House says the cold snap is packing the facility on a nightly basis.
This spell of cold weather has left the beds at Shelter House Thunder Bay completely occupied.

The executive director at Thunder Bay's Shelter House says the cold snap is packing the facility on a nightly basis.

Patty Hajdu said many homeless people are coming in early to get out of the cold.

Shelter House executive director Patty Hajdu. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

"We are really challenged … right now with space,” she said. “We're full by about 9:30 p.m. at night, every night."

Hajdu said she hoped a new program that will transport clients to the Salvation Army on the other side of town would already be up and running to help alleviate the crunch.

"In hindsight, it would have been great to start [the Cold Weather Pilot Project] earlier,” she said. “[But] we needed to seek the approval of our board, look at our finances and figure out how we could actually financially afford this."

Hajdu said the project is scheduled to start on Dec. 27.

Salvation Army community services director Rob Kerr. (Adam Burns/CBC)

In the meantime, the Salvation Army's Cumberland Street men's hostel has not been filled to capacity.

Major Rob Kerr said he was expecting more clients when the temperatures dropped, but "because it's probably early in the month, people might still have some money and they might have a place to stay right now."

Kerr said he feels the hostel will start to fill if the current weather pattern keeps up. His biggest fear is people staying out in the cold, which can be fatal, he said.

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