Hamilton

Housing found for men facing homelessness from charity closure

Karen Mason, board treasurer for the charity that helps those who have spent time behind bars, says the Salvation Army will give the men with a place to stay when the Bridge closes for four weeks.

4 man who were staying at the Bridge will be able to live at the Salvation Army

The Bridge supports men who have spent time behind bars. Its board has decided to close its housing program until further notice. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

Four men who were about to lose their housing at the Bridge House will have a roof over their heads after all.

Karen Mason, board treasurer for the charity that helps those who have spent time behind bars, said the Salvation Army will provide the men with a place to stay when the Bridge closes for four weeks Friday.

"We're absolutely thrilled and we're so grateful to the Salvation Army for their support," she said.

The Bridge announced it would be shutting down its transitional housing program until further notice in a statement dated Aug. 20. The goal is to reopen in October.

Mason said the decision to temporarily shutter the program was based on the fact two of the charity's three staff members had stepped down suddenly, along with financial difficulties.

But that move meant four men, currently relying on the Bridge as a place to stay, would be without a place to call home.

Volunteers and clients alike voiced their concerns, saying the short notice left little time to find accommodation. Two men staying there told CBC News they expected they'd either end up in shelters where they worried about bad influences or out on the street.

"I was wired, on drugs before I came here," Scott MacDonald explained. "It was those places [where] kind of … I ended up that way, you know?"

On Thursday, Mason said the board struggled with the shut down, and have learned lessons based on the response from clients.

"Was it a perfect decision? Probably not," she said.

Each of the men will have a private room at the Salvation Army where they will be able to continue their recovery and reintegration to the community, Mason said.

James Moulton, executive director of the Salvation Army in Hamilton, confirmed his organization has been in contact with the charity.

"Our intention is to work with them to secure some temporary accommodations for their clients," he said.

James Matheson (left) and Scott MacDonald said they expected to end up on the street when the Bridge shut down its housing program. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

Any person who stays at the Salvation Army needs to go through a vetting process, Mouton explained, adding the shelter has space and will not bump people to bring others in.

"We just try to work with our community partners the best way we can with the service we provide."

Support programs at the Bridge will continue during the housing closure, something Mason said is meant to help maintain a connection with the men and ensure there's "as little disruption as possible."

After the month is up, Mason the Bridge's doors will be open to the men again if they wish to return.

"Absolutely, we would like them to come back."

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