Folks come in from the cold
Shelters in Thunder Bay have been filling up with people who have nowhere else to go to escape the cold weather, but the shelters say it’s not an emergency situation.
With temperatures falling well below -20 C the past few nights, people have been turning to places like Shelter House and the Salvation Army to get off the streets for their safety.
Shelter House was expecting a higher number of people, because there is always an increase during the winter.
“We have seen a rise in the number of people who have been coming to us for shelter, warm clothes and hot meals,” Patty Hajdu, executive director for Shelter House, said in an interview on Monday. “Last week we were hovering around the 57 to 60 mark. We have the capacity to sleep 62 with our overflow capacity. We routinely hit those numbers all winter long.”
The higher numbers also mean an increased demand for food. The shelter offers two meals a day, Hajdu said, and more people come to the shelter to have something hot to eat.
Shelter House also gives hats and mitts, putting pressure on clothing donations.
“We are constantly looking for donations so people can stay warm,’’ said Hajdu.
Once they are in the shelter, the cold still is a problem because those people are stuck inside, Hajdu said. Walking becomes a problem in the low temperatures and many cannot afford bus fare to get to appointments.
The Salvation Army is also busy, but public relations representative Gail Kromm said many have been coming to the Cumberland Street centre for other reasons.
“They have been coming in because of circumstances in their lives, but at the same time there’s no reason for people to be out in the cold. There’s plenty of room here,” she said.
“We’ve been averaging 15 to 16 per night. People tend to settle down where they find shelter during the winter and don’t wander off too far.”
One service that is feeling the effects of the cold is the soup van. Kromm said fewer people are coming to the van due to the cold.
“It’s sad to know these people have to decide between staying in where it’s warm or coming to the van in the cold for a hot meal,” she said.
“We find only those who are real desperate for food come out in cold weather like this.”
The van also gives out clothes to those in need.