Care and Precautions for Unsheltered NOW

Petition on 24hr emergency shelters

TEMPORARY 24/7 EMERGENCY SHELTERS NEEDED : As a part of the Community Support Control Group’s pandemic response, the A.R. Kaufman YMCA in Kitchener serves now as a temporary overnight emergency shelter (9pm to 8am), currently accommodating people who were at the St. Mark’s overflow but with fewer beds. (read a testimony of one of the guests at St. Marks) The facility will also have capacity to serve as daytime and as overflow from other shelters once additional staffing is in place. However, we still need over 200 additional 24/7 spaces only in KW. We do not know how many unsheltered individuals are at this time in Cambridge and the townships. The petition for opening public and private facilities, funding and staffing of the additional shelter spaces is still open.

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Civic Hub grassroots conversations are slowly moving online. Since social-distancing started, most of them focus on homeless outside of the shelter system (unsheltered) as the whole infrastructure shut down on them, coffee shops, public washrooms, day drop ins, internet access, community food distribution and service programs. Of course, all the advice made for us who are middle class, such as, stay home, stock up, sleep 8 hours, order from Amazon, avoid groups and crowds, impossible to follow.

Regional government has brought together social and housing service agencies and responded to centralize food security programs, ensure shelters are open 24 hours (no 8hr sleep there), open three day use locations with public washrooms, and in collaboration with health care frontliners, make sure that homeless who show symptoms of respiratory illness can be isolated in motel rooms. We are all concerned. We had a humanitarian crisis for many winters now with the number of unsheltered individuals increased. It was never acceptable. It is not acceptable now.

Heather Majaury sent a public letter and asked the Regional Chair and the Mayor of Kitchener, when, not if, local community centres in the region will open as essential service for the homeless. (read the letter here) We are all still waiting for an answer. The answer to preventing the spread of the virus and to preventing deaths among the homeless and unsheltered population. Think on a scale of distancing to isolation to quarantine. Unsheltered individuals will have many health challenges, and they need safe overnight space too to keep distance and stop the spread. We do not have the facilities open for this. Once they exhibit symptoms, who will know if they are outside of the shelter system? If they are identified, there will be spaces in motels for them. They need to stay there if they are awaiting results or if they need to be quarantined. Many would not be able to take care of themselves. Providing care will be even more difficult if we go into a lockdown.

You can see how the time is of essence. So, the question is not when, but if it is happening today. In community centres, student residences, hotels. Join the call and talk to your councillor at the city, township and the region. 

Regional council   -   Kitchener Council   -   Cambridge Council   -  Waterloo Council   

Groups that support the call

People's Action Group
Circle of Friends
Alliance Against Poverty
Disabilities and Human Rights
Awareness of Low Income Voices
Our Time KW
WR Yes In My Back Yard

more to come...

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