Shelter House is already near capacity and with winter just around the corner, the organization's executive director is worried about turning people away in the cold weather.
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With the possibility of snow in the forecast for the city as early as next week, Shelter House officials are worried about having to turn people away.
The George Street shelter is already hovering just under capacity with about 60 people, that includes their 20 overflow beds. The 15 beds in the alcohol management program are also currently full.
"We're really concerned actually about the next few months," said executive director Patty Hajdu.
"We know in the spring we were turning away sometimes up to eight or 10 people a night and as the temperatures dip and people are seeking more shelter from the extreme temperatures, we know that they're going to be coming to us looking for some support and by the fire code, we're only allowed to have 62 people in this building," she said.
The Salvation Army also serves as emergency shelter in the city, but they have even fewer beds than Shelter House and have different admission requirements.
Worst case scenario, Hajdu said they call the police, but homelessness is not a criminal offence.
"They're there as a last resort," she said.
The city needs more permanent affordable housing. Hajdu said in a supportive housing situation like the alcohol management program, it costs $31,000 a year to support an individual. That same person living on the streets could cost the system $130,000 to support.
With winter coming, Hajdu said the Shelter House is looking to work with the city on an emergency cold weather plan.
Shelter House will be looking at various solutions and presenting them to the city within the next month.
"I think the city is an ideal partner in terms of pulling together various community organizations that can actually address that problem," said Hajdu, adding this could ensure there is a plan in place so no one is left unaccommodated in extreme weather conditions.
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