Windsor

Lack of shelters in the county, means homeless sent to Windsor

The lack of shelters in Essex County mean the homeless end up being sent to Windsor.

If people identify need for shelter, the only opportunity for them is downtown Windsor

"We currently see anywhere 20 to 25 per cent of the women we see are from the county. We know there's a greater need for that," said Thom Rolfe, executive director of Hiatus House. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Shelters in Windsor are reporting growing numbers of people in need and some of those people are from the county.

There are no shelter facilities anywhere in the county, but Hiatus House is working on that. Earlier this year, it bought land in Leamington, but it still needs approvals and funding to complete the project.

"We currently see anywhere 20 to 25 per cent of the women we see are from the county. We know there's a greater need for that," said Thom Rolfe, executive director of Hiatus House.

Since April 1, it has turned away 104 women and 87 children, because there aren't enough beds. In the future through the national housing strategy which has a cost share with the province, he hopes there will be money available for more beds.

"We confirmed the fact that we are the most under serviced area in the southwest," Rolfe said.

The newest estimate said there needs to be 45 more bed to bring the number up to the average number of beds in other communities, he said. The project may take years to complete.

The Bridge

With years to go before Leamington may get a shelter, the town did have a youth program start up this year. The Bridge Leamington Youth Resource Centre helps people ages 14 to 24 meet their needs.

Located at the former Catholic church on Sherk Street, it has laundry facilities, computers, a kitchen which provides a nightly meal, showers and a homework area. Krista Rempel, the executive director said the next step for the program is to create transitional facility.

. The Bridge Leamington Youth Resource Centre helps people ages 14 to 24 meet their needs. (Facebook/TheBridgeYouth)

"The idea is for youth that are going to be housed for just under a years time and the permanent facility would be until they're of the age 24," she said.

The project needs funding. In the meantime, those who need shelter have to look elsewhere.

"If somebody does identify that they need shelter the only opportunity for them is to be sent to downtown Windsor," Rempel said.

Her organization can afford funding to get them to Windsor and back to Leamington.

"If they get into the housing system there, then they are part of the Windsor housing system," she said. "Kind of taken and disrupted from their own community, which could be anywhere in the community. So it is an issue that exists."

About the Author

Stacey Janzer was born and raised in Essex County. Self-described Canadian treasure. She currently works as a video journalist at CBC Windsor. Email her at Stacey.Janzer@cbc.ca.