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Groups that advocate for homeless Edmontonians say cold weather triggers ‘urgent need’

Click to play video: 'Edmonton homeless shelters prepare for a big increase in visitors' Edmonton homeless shelters prepare for a big increase in visitors
WATCH ABOVE: (From Jan. 23, 2021) The mild weather Edmontonians have been enjoying has taken a turn. With temperatures now dropping by the day, shelters are kicking into high gear to accommodate an influx of people who are homeless and looking for a warm place to stay. Chris Chacon reports – Jan 23, 2021

After a remarkably warm winter in Edmonton so far, the cold weather has now kicked in along with the need for more supplies to help homeless people in the city.

“Right now, the homeless are even more vulnerable just because of the drastic change in temperature,” Kelly Row of the Hope Mission told Global News on Saturday.

On Monday, the not-for-profit social care agency tweeted that it was in “urgent need of warm winter items” and issued a plea for donations.

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On Saturday, the temperature in Alberta’s capital dropped to -20 C, the first time this month the temperature had dipped below -14 C.

“(Homeless people are) not really prepared for the cold weather like they normally would be in January,” said Row. “So we’re going to see a big number — we figure — in the shelter.”

There are about 500 beds available at the Hope Mission, and Row said already about 300 are filled each night. The makeshift shelter created at the Edmonton Convention Centre has also recently reported a rising number of people requiring its services.

READ MORE: Temporary shelter at Edmonton Convention Centre has seen 317 people per day, 157 at night 

“When the weather turns cold, our numbers (are) always going up,” Row said.

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The Bissell Centre, another organization that works to help poverty-stricken Edmontonians, tweeted Saturday that it still needs clothing donations during the cold snap.

Dean Kurpjuweit, the executive director of the Mustard Seed Edmonton, a non-profit that works with homeless people, said homelessness and people needing help continues to increase amid the COVID-19 health crisis.

“The pandemic has hit people hard and one of the trickledowns of that, unfortunately, is more people need shelter service,” he said.

READ MORE: Edmonton mayor asks province for $17M in annual funding for supportive housing services 

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“As the snow falls and the temperatures drop, we need to watch out for each other more than ever,” the Hope Mission tweeted Monday, adding that if Edmontonians see someone who needs help, they should call 211 and “press 3.”

–With files from Global News’ Chris Chacon

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