Cold Weather Homelessness Frequently Asked Questions
Are there emergency shelters in Niagara Falls?
The YWCA offers emergency lodging for single women and single women with children in Niagara Falls. The Boys & Girls Club has shelter service for youth. Unfortunately, the closest centre for men or two parent families is in St. Catharines.Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness
Are there statistics on shelter usage/demand in Niagara Falls?
Cathy Cousins, Director Homelessness Services and Community Engagement at Niagara Region, reports the following:
In 2014, the shelter system supported 327 unique households, of which 92% were singles and 60% were female.
In 2014, the outreach services, including mobile outreach and food truck served 54 unique households, of which 78% were singles and 57% were female.
Approximately 90 meals are served daily at lunch and again at dinner at the Out of the Cold meal program. Based on our experience and conversations with the program staff, the split is about 50/50 between homelessness individuals and working poor that attend the meal programs.
There are many other programs that the Region does not operate or support financially for which we do not have statistics.Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness
How would an individual get to a shelter in St. Catharines?
Community organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Out of the Cold program on St. Lawrence Avenue, will help arrange for transportation.Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness
Is Niagara Falls appropriately served by services for the homeless?
It would appear that there are services available, most notably the Out of the Cold program. There is a gap with regard to local shelter services for men and two parent families with City of Niagara Falls.Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness
Is there any possibility of a shelter for men in Niagara Falls?
Previous calls for applications for grants have been put out by the Region. A men's shelter in Niagara Falls is dependent on an appropriate physical facility, funding to operate it, and an organization willing to operate such a service. A group of organizations has been working on creating an emergency homelessness shelter to address unmet needs for many years, including representation through City Hall. The challenge has been raising capital and finding a service provider, and with the consolidation of homelessness funding by the provincial government effective January 1, 2013, the newest challenge is lack of operating dollars.
Most recently the YWCA has stepped up to help lead a proposal for establishment of a shelter in Niagara Falls to serve families and men. For more information about the proposal, see the group's presentation to the Region's Public Health and Social Services Committee meeting on December 3, 2013. The group was advised that an RFP would be issued early in 2014, and they submitted a proposal for funding of operating costs. The proposal was viewed positively, but was not awarded a contract due to insufficient Regional funding being available (see page 10). Even if it had been successful, capital funding and establishing a location remain a challenge.
Last fall, the Region received some unexpected, one time, time limited funding from the provincial government for homelessness services. YWCA received funding until March 31, 2014 to establish a pilot project for men's shelter services in Niagara Falls.
Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness
What is entailed in a cold weather alert?
The alert mobilizes community agencies and outreach workers. Community Agency Responses during Extreme Cold Weather Alerts include:
- extra supplies of warm clothing including mitts ,hats hand warmers, scarves etc, extra food if required , people are allowed to remain at agencies longer, and are encouraged to connect with shelters. Clients are advised of the concerns of being outside for any length of time. These agencies do not stay open later than regular business hours.
- Youth Shelters will allow entry to anyone seeking shelter; no walk-ins will be refused. They may not be offered a place to sleep but they can come in and stay warm and will be offered water. No Youth will be discharged unless to another shelter or another safe place. If the individual is not a youth, transportation to an appropriate shelter will be arranged. If for safety reasons a discharge is required, 911 will be called.
- Adult Shelters will provide extra sleeping spaces with cots/couches as allowed by available space and Fire Code. Entry restrictions are eased or lifted and if safety issues arise NRP will be called to remove an individual from a shelter. EMS is called in cases of illness.
- NRP, Fire and EMS are advised to extra vigilant in spotting homeless persons in their communities.
Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness
What more can be done, especially at the lower-tier municipal level?
Community Services at the Region and the community organizations quoted in the Niagara Falls Review have encouraged more public information. City staff can work with the Region's Community Services staff to post appropriate information on our website. Although the homeless would not have internet access, the more residents and business people are aware of the process and services, the greater likelihood of individuals being directed properly to the right resources. Also, the more open dialogue, the less stigma associated with the issues of homelessness.Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness
Who is in charge of shelters or warming centres?
Niagara Region is the service system manager for homelessness services. It does not directly operate services, but rather contracts with community agencies to provide homelessness services such as emergency homelessness shelters.
The Region does not contract for warming centres as a separate type of service. Homelessness services such as hostels, Out of the Cold and drop-in centres enhance their operations when extreme cold weather alerts are called.Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness
Who issues Cold Weather Warnings?
The Region's Medical Officer of Health declares an extreme cold weather alert.Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness
Who would a member of the public contact regarding warming centres or shelters?
The public is encouraged to call 2-1-1, which is the phone number which refers people to programs and services available in the community. 2-1-1 will refer the individual to the closest centre.Categories: Cold Weather Homelessness