Windsor

Downtown Mission increasing number of beds in response to 'unprecedented' demand

The mission has increased the number of beds to try and accommodate another 42 men, women, youth and families, according to executive director Ron Dunn.

Homeless face increased risk of dehydration and death during summer months

Ron Dunn is the executive director of the Downtown Mission in Windsor, Ont. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

Windsor's Downtown Mission is being overrun by an 'unprecedented' number of people seeking a place to stay each night.

The organization has increased the number of beds to try and accommodate another 42 men, women, youth and families, according to executive director Ron Dunn.

"The number of people coming to the Wellness Centre each night for a bed is beyond our current capacity," he explained. "It's not only unprecedented but it's a real concern." 

The number of necessary beds has skyrocketed from the 74 typically offered through the mission's Sanctuary Program to 116, according to Dunn, who added the increase highlights the need for affordable housing in the region.

He added a mental health crisis in the city is also pushing more and more people to live on the street.

Hayden Poisson, 23, has been staying at the sanctuary since it opened in April. He has been homeless for 14 months due to a drug addiction, a story he described as common story among many of those seeking shelter there.

Dunn agreed the spike in opioid use has been a factor in the increase in demand.

"Addiction and mental health often go hand in hand in our facility," he explained.

During the summer months, the mission sees to the needs of the homeless who are struggling in stifling heat by opening its doors and providing access to air conditioning during the day. Dunn said the city's most vulnerable often face a higher risk of sunstroke, dehydration and even death from exposure.

"Please be vigilant, if you are aware of a friend or neighbour, struggling with the heat, contact the mission," he said. "We are here to serve those in need."

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