Bank's ATM space used as refuge from cold in Saskatoon

A group of people found refuge from a cold night in Saskatoon by curling up inside a bank's ATM space.

People who know homelessness say finding a place for the night can be hard

A group of people found a place to sleep in the front entrance area of the First Nations Bank in Saskatoon. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

A group of people found refuge from a cold night in Saskatoon by curling up inside a bank's ATM space.

CBC News reporter Dan Zakreski took a photograph of five people sleeping in the entry area of the First Nations Bank of Canada, on 4th Avenue S. in the city's downtown core.

People who saw the picture were moved by the image.

"I've known these guys," Paul Sanderson told CBC News Wednesday. "I've even slept in there, too."

Sanderson said he has been homeless for four weeks and has been improvising shelter for the night.

"[I've] slept in the bank, slept in the park," he said. "Sometimes I just stay up all night and walk around all night."

Sanderson said there are often not enough beds available at shelters for the homeless or the detox centre.

"When I saw that picture this morning, it broke my heart," DeeAnn Mercier, from Lighthouse Supported Living, said. "But it kind of summed up the week that we've been having. The weather really turned this week, so we've been having a lot more demand on our shelters.

Mercier said the Lighthouse is expanding and will be adding another 37 beds in October.

"Long-term, we need to think about affordable housing in our community," Mercier added. "[We need] housing that works for individuals suffering from different illnesses: mental illnesses, addictions those sorts of things."

As cold weather begins, people without homes are looking for warm places to spend the night. 1:35

CBC News learned from the bank that there is a safety concern with access to the front entry overnight and the doors are supposed to automatically lock at 11 p.m., and have been set to do so.

An official said someone may not have closed the door all the way after using the ATM.


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