Pending Kenora shelter closure prompts worry for vulnerable patrons
Shelter will close for more than a month starting Aug. 18
The executive director of the agency that operates Kenora's homeless shelter says she's concerned that not everyone who uses the service will have a safe place to stay during its upcoming temporary closure.
The shelter is part of Kenora's Service Hub, which closed for 45 days on Monday over concern about drug use in the community, and the safety of staff and patrons at the facility.
However, also on Monday, the Kenora District Services Board, which funds the Service Hub, said it would keep the shelter's beds open until Aug.18 to allow more time to find safe temporary accommodations for the shelter's most-vulnerable patrons.
But Patti Fairfield, executive director of Ne-Chee Friendship Centre, which operates the Service Hub, said she's concerned an extra week won't be enough time.
"I don't know how many people are still going to be left to try to find accommodations for at the end of the week," she said. "I'm still troubled by the fact that we're probably going to have individuals that will still be out in the elements at night time."
Fairfield said Kenora has a housing shortage, and there isn't much space available for those who use the homeless shelter.
She said the city's detox centre has freed up a few beds, and the board was able to find room in Kenora's supportive housing units to house some others.
In other cases, people were given help to return to their home communities, as well, Fairfield said.
Street outreach running
"I think they're working on finding a building or something that's able to provide some kind of accommodation," she said. "It's not that easy."
Fairfield said Ne-Chee has begun its street outreach service to support the homeless people in Kenora. Currently, the service is running during the day, as the shelter is open overnight.
However, when the shelter completely closes on Aug. 18, the outreach service will run 24/7, she said.
The board said the Service Hub closure is taking place to allow its safety and programming to be reviewed.
During the closure, some of the services offered by the hub will be provided by other community agencies.