Collaboration between city partners helping to meet the needs of the homeless

AM800-NEWS-downtown-mission-front

A collaboration between the City of Windsor, St. Clair College, emergency shelter providers and community partners is helping to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness under demanding circumstances.

Officials say the emergency shelter system, like many sectors in the community, has been significantly impacted by the Omicron wave in Ontario. 

The Downtown Mission, Salvation Army Centre of Hope, and Welcome Centre Shelter for Women and Families have all experienced outbreaks amongst staff and clients over the past few weeks due to the latest strain.

Speaking on AM800's The Morning Drive, Mayor Drew Dilkens says Mission staff were particularly impacted by this latest wave.

"When they found that there were issues at the Downtown Mission with respect to an outbreak there that has immobilized a lot of their staff requiring the city to step in and help support in the short term here. Requiring also food preparation, so Patti France and St. Clair said 'we're going to make this happen, we're not going to charge you for it, and we're going to help you get through because we're part of the community," he says.

The emergency shelter providers, with support from the City and community partners, continue to rally together to support persons experiencing homelessness.

Dilkens says it's no surprise to see St. Clair step up based on things that have already happened during the pandemic.

"Allowing {Windsor Regional Hospital CEO} David Musyj and the team to walk in and basically take over their gym for the purposes of setting up a field  hospital and the commitment all the way along, it's been absolutely tremendous," he says. "So we're thankful for her {St. Clair College President Patti France} and the entire college team who has stepped up to help support the Mission and those experiencing homelessness at a very difficult time."

In particular, staff at the college are providing the meals for Downtown Mission guests in the interim to allow Mission staff to focus on overnight shelter operations, pending the return of staff from isolation.

Dilkens says they had to mobilize city staff to go in and support the Mission so they could keep some of the beds open.

"Because a lot of the Mission Staff have been impacted with COVID, including their chefs, and they weren't able to provide the food. That is, the three meals a day that are given to their residents, so St. Clair College and the team downtown is actually making those meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner," he adds.

The City of Windsor and the Welcome Centre for Women and Families continue to operate an isolation and recovery centre for persons experiencing homelessness. 

The City has also provided additional supports to all three shelters to mitigate the risk of COVID to guests and staff. 

Additional assistance for cleaning, implementation of Infection Prevention and Control measures, personal protective equipment, and security staffing has been provided, and the Homelessness and Housing Help Hub Day Program continues to provide housing search assistance and other supports. 

The City has also opened a temporary warming centre at the downtown aquatic centre to relieve pressure on the existing day programs by providing an alternative space for people to get out of the cold.