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Alliston’s S.H.I.F.T shelter will soon move to a year-round operation

As of Sept. 1, S.H.I.F.T (Support and Hope for Individuals and Families Today) will expand from an emergency overnight shelter during the winter months to a year-round operation.

 The shelter can accommodate up to 10 individuals experiencing homelessness.

 “Over the course of those six seasons, we have seen an increase in the need in our area and thanks to some support offered through funding at the County of Simcoe, we are able to move our operations to year-round,” said Jenifer Pergentile, executive director of S.H.I.F.T.

 Pergentile said the numbers had increased significantly.

 “We’ve seen anywhere from a 50 percent to 200 percent increase year-over-year in terms of clients accessing our shelter program, and certainly within our outreach program, we’ve seen those numbers incline exponentially,” she said.

 She adds that the pandemic drastically played a part.

 “Throughout that time, obviously, our numbers did increase, being one of the only services that people had to access. Definitely since Covid, lots of different challenges people are facing and within our area more so with individuals who are at risk of losing their housing and using our support to stay housed,” said Pergentile.

 The outreach team supports roughly 90 to 150 individuals a month, which is why the centre heavily relies on support and donations.

“Unfortunately, there is still people that are actively living in the communities that are in need of tents and supports. Our outreach team does support them as best they can whenever they reach out. Right now, we’re actively sourcing items such as tents, tarps, sleeping bags and basic hygiene products - toothpaste, deodorant and stuff like that,” said Candace Gordon, donor relations and stewardship officer at S.H.I.F.T.

To prepare for the year-round shelter, the centre is hiring roughly ten staff members for its shelter program and five staff members to join the outreach team.

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