A hub for downtown Hamilton’s most vulnerable is being forced to close its doors after more than 20 years.
Wesley Urban Ministries says it will have to close the Wesley Day Centre on Ferguson Avenue North on August 23 because the landlord, Wesley Community Homes, is not renewing the lease.
Appearing on Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show, Andrea Buttars, manager of resources for Wesley Urban Ministries, said their main priority is to help those who have been using the day centre’s services.
“We’re working with the city of Hamilton to try to connect those people to other services in Hamilton,” said Buttars. “We have over 500 people each year that access that program, so that’s our first concern and our first priority.”
The day centre’s meal program will be moved to Vanier Towers in August, where more than 80 per cent of the population has experienced homelessness and the average life expectancy is 57. The organization is also looking at possibly offering more life skills training and cooking classes for those residents, as those are barriers faced by people who are newly housed after experiencing homelessness.
“It’s a very high needs population,” said Buttars. “We will be moving our meal program there, but it’s not going to be the same program. So we’re not moving the name ‘Day Centre’ to that location.”
She said they had been looking for a new location, but due to high rent costs and zoning issues, the day centre cannot simply be relocated.
“It’s very bittersweet. We’re very sad, but we are pleased that at least we have one way that we will be continuing to support people who do face homelessness.”
Buttars stressed that Wesley Urban Ministries’ other programs, including housing services and programs for children in high priority neighbourhoods, will continue and are unaffected by the closure of the day centre.