Poverty group wants Peterborough to fund more shelter space

Click to play video: 'Group lobbys for more shelter beds in Peterborough' Group lobbys for more shelter beds in Peterborough
Community groups are joining forces to lobby the City of Peterborough for a 24-hour homeless shelter – Nov 23, 2017

A group of social workers, health-care professionals and poverty advocates is asking Peterborough’s city council to push some cash from the 2018 budget toward more shelter beds.

Michelle Fraser, part of the group speaking to council Wednesday night, says there’s an alarming shortage of shelter space for those in need.

“The specific ask is for the city to put money into a shelter that’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, that has enough room for everyone who needs it,” Fraser said.

READ MORE: 1 in 5 children in B.C. live in poverty: report

Fraser said the high cost of buying a home, combined with a rental shortage in the city, has aggravated the problem.

When the Warming Room, the city’s temporary winter shelter, closed in May, Fraser said 22 people were handed tents and sent on their way.

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“We don’t want to be in that same position,” she said. “We want there to be somewhere for people to continue to stay that is safe, so we don’t send them out without a home,” she said.

Fraser and members of her group are taking a delegation to city council during the first public budget meeting this week.

READ MORE: Peterborough Salvation Army issues call for Christmas donations to help those in need

Budget chair Henry Clarke says he knows homelessness and a lack of shelter space is an issue.

But he says he’s not sure the city can afford to fulfill the group’s request.

“Does it mean we need to establish a third major shelter?” Clarke said. “Do we add something to the current one, or do we say no, it’s a temporary blip and there’s nothing more we can do at this point?”

Clarke says city staff would have to look into the issue further before any decision was made.

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