Pair of Peterborough fundraisers aim to help local shelters for busy winter months
Homelessness can be a life and death situation, especially in frigid temperatures.
To make matters worse, there is currently a housing crisis in Peterborough as experts say there is a 1 per cent vacancy rate in the city, making it challenging for would-be renters to find a place to call home.
A pair of fundraisers are being planned to shine a light on the issue and help the local shelters during their busiest time, one is a Christmas Party and concert this Sunday with a stellar list of bands while deputy police chief Tim Farquharson with the Peterborough Police Service will be camping out downtown in the New Year.
Meanwhile, The Warming Room has moved back and is operating out of the Murray Street Baptist church where it first opened in 2013.
The 24-bed shelter had been operating temporarily out of Emmanuel church since June, and now the shelter is seeing a major influx of people needing a space.
“The amount of people who are homeless right now is at a very scary level,” said Rev. Christian Harvey, director of The Warming Room. “There are nights when we are over capacity for sure and you can imagine all the other shelters are quite full and there are times when all the shelters are full.”
Angel Dwight has been homeless for six years and relies on the shelter. The 22-year-old says it has been impossible to find a rental.
“There is a lack of housing,” said Dwight while standing outside on the corner with a coffee cup and asking for change.
Dwight says she has been living on the streets for the past six years and if it wasn’t for The Warming Room she would have nowhere to go.
“This time of the year, the shelters are always full and if it wasn’t for The Warming Room you would have to stay outside and in this weather, you would probably die.”
Dwight says because she is on social assistance landlords are reluctant to rent to her.
“Landlords don’t want to rent to people on social assistance,” she said. “You book viewing after viewing after viewing and they keep getting declined. It’s frustrating and it makes you feel judged, it’s not a good feeling.”
Rev. Harvey says the issue comes down to a lack of affordable housing options for people on government support or low incomes.
“Until we can find that type of housing, we need emergency shelter for people, so at least they have a roof over their head,” he said. “If you come from a shelter, the struggle is that you are competing for rentals with students and professionals and you will almost always be chosen last and we are seeing huge impacts because of that.”
The Warming Room has received funding from city hall to keep its doors open year-round for this year and next but there’s still a need to raise more money.
On Sunday, Dec. 17 the shelter is hosting its third annual Christmas concert and they are inviting everyone to come.
“We’ve got a killer lineup of artists,” said Harvey. “And basically, we just mingle together and then the music starts and almost always we end with a dance party. So I’m sure there will be a dance party at some point.”
In the New Year, deputy police chief Tim Farquharson will be camping out downtown to raise funds for three local shelters, including The Warming Room, YES Shelter and Brock Mission.
“It’s (homelessness) more prevalent than when I was on the road and obviously it’s grown for many issues,” he said. “Each person you talk to have a totally different story about why they are homeless, but it seems there is some momentum in Peterborough with social planning and all the different agencies working on the social safety nets.”
Deputy chief Farquharson and the Peterborough Cares team will be on the street Jan. 26 from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. raising some money but they stress, you don’t have to wait until the New Year to give because shelters need the support now.
The Warming Room Christmas party is taking place Sunday at The Venue on George Street, doors open at 6:45 p.m.
Admission is pay what you can.
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