Province will now pay for hotel room for those in urgent need of shelter

A new program through the P.E.I. government and Family Violence Prevention Services will assist Islanders in urgent need of emergency shelter.

Islanders will have place to stay until they can find a better solution

Islanders can now call a hotline for support if they are in urgent need of shelter. (Tammy MacKinnon/Facebook)

A pilot program through the P.E.I. government and Family Violence Prevention Services will provide Islanders in urgent need of shelter with a hotel room.

People can call a toll-free number if they don't have a safe or sustainable place to stay for the night.

Those in need can find shelter until they're able to work with other government or community support systems to find a more permanent solution. 

"On Friday, the referral line was stood up quickly to address those in need of a warm place to stay now," said Tina Mundy, the minister of family and human services, in a statement to CBC.

"We continue to work together to assess needs, resources and workable solutions across the province."

About 40 rooms available

Danya O'Malley, the executive director of P.E.I.'s family violence prevention services, has been responding to calls to the hotline and said 13 people have already been placed in hotel rooms as of Sunday afternoon. 

"A lot of people just literally don't have anywhere to go." - Danya O'Malley, executive director of P.E.I. Family Violence and Prevention Services

"There have been people calling to say they've been sleeping in parkades or they sleep in an ATM booths … just anywhere to get out of the cold," she said.

"A lot of people just literally don't have anywhere to go so it's tough." 

O'Malley said about 40 rooms have been reserved in a motel. When a person calls, she does a basic assessment, including where a person has stayed the night before, their short-term plans and what type of support they need.

'We won't see them out into the street.'

She said they are then given next steps and a contact for followup. After that, a taxi comes to pick them up and bring them to their hotel room.

The person can stay until a better solution is found. "We won't see them out into the street."

Since the hotline was advertised to various community groups on Friday, O'Malley said calls have increased.

"It's very, very moving to talk to people, to hear the emotion in their voice when you tell them that they have a place to stay," she said.

"It feels absolutely wonderful to be able to offer them something, and something with no hoops. Somebody calls me, I set them up with a room, they're good to go. Like it's that simple and people have just been very, very appreciative."

Program to address short-term needs

The province says it is a pilot program working with one hotel, but depending on demand, government will look at networking with other hotels to make the program as accessible as possible.

O'Malley also said that while the hotline is available at all times, she recommends anyone needing the service to try to call as early in the day as possible so arrangements can be made.

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About the Author

Nicole Williams

Video Journalist

Nicole Williams is a video journalist with CBC Ottawa. She previously worked as a reporter with CBC P.E.I. and as an associate producer with CBC News in Toronto.