Emergency shelters in Kingston have been full for months, and a number of individuals and organizations have been working to provide options for unsheltered individuals, especially in light of the very cold weather the area has been experiencing this winter, according to a release from Home Base Housing.
As in many communities in Ontario, Kingston City Council requested that steps be taken to open a new centre at 218 Concession Street, according to the release. The Warming Centre opened in late December, with sporadic service due to low staff. Home Base Housing said that they worked as quickly as possible to recruit and orient new staff to work in the homeless sector, and in particular at the Warming Centre.
“Over the past three weeks, the Warming Centre has opened with the staff available on the evenings of cold weather alerts,” The organization said. “On those evenings when the Warming Centre was open, there were between 13 and 16 individuals who sheltered for the evening.”
Home Base has announced that, as of Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, the centre will be open seven evenings a week. They, along with other organizations, have reported a constant struggle to maintain existing emergency services during the most recent COVID-19 surge, and this will likely continue in the weeks ahead, according to the release.
According to Home Base, Street Outreach staff work seven days a week to meet and assist homeless individuals who are unsheltered. The Warming Centre provides an additional option for Outreach staff to refer individuals to.
Street Outreach services at Home Base are working with staff from the Salvation Army, Addiction and Mental Health Services, and Street Health, who join for various outreach tours of locations around the city. Home Base has also integrated an Indigenous outreach worker who specifically attends to those who identify as Indigenous, according to the release.
Home Base Housing and Lionhearts Inc. are working collaboratively at the Warming Centre for a drop-in meal service from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and to staff the overnight shelter from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. These services are made possible through the support of City Council, the United Way of KFL&A, and many other volunteers and organizations that have offered assistance, according to the release.
“The Warming Centre is a welcoming environment and a necessary option to protect people,” Home Base stated.
For more information on Lionhearts Inc., including ways to help out with their programs, visit their website here.
The Warming Centre is located at 218 Concession Street. Contact the Centre at 613-542-6672 x310.
Alternate warming locations in the event of a Cold Weather Warning, include Kingston Frontenac Public Library branches during regular hours, and 362 Montreal Street (Housing and Social Services) which will open 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for drop-in warming on weekdays.
Kingston is currently under a cold weather warning, which has been issued by both Environment Canada and KFL&A Public Health.