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Halifax’s Out of the Cold shelter hopes to open again as it looks for new home

Halifax’s Out of the Cold shelter hopes to open again as it looks for new home
Out of the Cold, Halifax’s emergency winter shelter which has been located at St. Matthews Church on Barrington Street for the past 10 years, is now looking for a new home. Jesse Thomas has more.

Out of the Cold, Halifax’s emergency winter shelter which has been located at St. Matthews Church on Barrington Street for the past 10 years, is now looking for a new home.

The pop-up shelter opens up every year in December and closes in April, employing about 150 volunteers and 10 staff members.

“I think we and [the church] just needed a break,” said Jeff Karabanow, co-founder and organizer of the shelter.
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“It’s a lot of work to set up a shelter and host the shelter each year. We still have very good ties with them and they’re partners with us,” he added. “But I think we just wanted a bigger, healthier space.”

The shelter was hosted in the church’s basement where guests were provided with food, beds and access to community programs.

Karabanow said about 50 to 60 people used to drop-in every night.

“We need a space for cots. We have 15 cots for folks and we have a large drop-in, so we really just need more space,” he said.

Humanizing homelessness with hockey video
Humanizing homelessness with hockey video

The ideal space to support guests, according to the shelter, would be able to accommodate space for 15 beds, have minimum two bathrooms, kitchen, a hang-out space separate from the sleeping area and for the location to be accessible by bus.

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Karabanow and a group of organizers have been looking around for space alternatives throughout Halifax in October.

“Now we’re at the point where it’s, you know, soon, December, we really want to get a space. And we then decided maybe let’s go out to the public and see if anybody has any ideas.”

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He said if anyone has an idea regarding a great potential home for Out of the Cold, they can reach out to the shelter and let volunteers know.

In the meantime, the shelter has already started to hire staff and mobilize volunteers.

“We need to do training. We need set up time. So this would be the ideal time to locate something,” Karabanow said.

“It’s imperative that people who have nowhere to go in the winter have a safe, healthy space. And so we’re really, really hoping that we can open up Out of the Cold again this year.”