Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-07-03 at 3:25PM

Unprecedented need

Volunteers help out in the kitchen at Shelter House Thursday morning.
Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com
Volunteers help out in the kitchen at Shelter House Thursday morning.
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- Shelter House is appealing directly to donors for the first time as the need for emergency shelter rises in the city.

The George Street shelter mailed out about 2,000 letters last week to people who have contributed in the past.

“We know our donors are incredibly generous to Shelter House whether it’s through food or through actual direct financial donations,” said executive director Patty Hajdu, adding they thought they’d let donors know exactly where their money has gone and a little about some of the people they’ve helped.

Fundraising accounts for about 40 per cent of the shelter’s $1.8 million budget. Hajdu said they need to raise between $300,000 and $500,000 annually depending on what services they provide.

The shelter approached council on June 23 asking the city to nearly double its annual contribution to $500,000. That was part of their business plan, which also includes a renewed commitment to fundraising.

“It’s a commitment we plan to live up to,” said Hajdu, adding those plans include some new events and the direct appeals. 

The increased costs are primarily from a need to help staff the shelter because of a growing number of clients, even in the warm summer months.

“We’re at 62 people all summer long. This is something that was unheard of two years ago,” said Hajdu, noting they have had to turn people away this summer.

The jump in clients is because of a combination of factors, with the biggest being the housing crunch, Hajdu said.

“With the vacancy rate hovering around the one per cent mark with affordable housing sort of being torn down in the community, we really have no place to refer people to and so people are staying longer and longer with Shelter House,” she said.

The shelter is also looking at training their staff in vulnerability assessment for the winter months to determine which clients are the most in need of emergency shelter.

“This is a horrible reality,” said Hajdu.


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