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Salvation Army to build $10-million shelter

The Salvation Army has already raised $6 million of the $10 million it needs to build a new men's homeless shelter in Current River. It's asking the city for $500,000 in support of the project.
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Salvation Army
Salvation Army Maj. Lori Mitchell requests $500,000 from city council for a $10-million shelter the group is building to support 40 men.

THUNDER BAY -- The Salvation Army intends to replace the aging men's homeless shelter on North Cumberland Street with a $10-million building that will change the way it delivers services. 

Salvation Army Maj. Lori Mitchell said her group can already count on $6 million raised through the church and local fundraising. She asked the city for $500,000 on Monday to buy into a new strategy to help men off the streets.  

Council referred the request to administration for a report. 

"We've been warehousing men for a long time. They refer to it as 'three hots and a cot.' We're been providing band-aid solutions and not really getting to the root of the problem," Mitchell said. 

"We’re looking at buidling something that is purpose-built. Right now, we fit programs into a building that existed. We want to fit the building into the programs. With our journey to life program, there’s training, there’s classes, there’s a lot of that kind of work involved. We need to have the facilities to be able to do that."

The Salvation Army's "Journey To Life" program will take the form of 20 apartment-styled spaces with 20 more as shelter overflow. Mitchell calls it "wrap-around programming" wherein an individual will be working directly with a worker on the personal barriers they face to housing and employment. 

Men will pay portions of government support or paychecks as rent as they receive living skills like cooking and laundry as well as life skils like self-awareness and self-management.  

"Many of them have lived institutionally most of their lives so they don’t know how to be alone or how to take care of themelsves," Mitchell said. 

"They don’t know how to go grocery shopping or banking or any of the things we take for granted." 

The shelter will continue to operate while construction is underway and gardens will be constructed on the existing site once the new building is complete.