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Barrie advocates push for 24/7 warming shelter to protect city's homeless

Advocates want the City of Barrie and the County of Simcoe to step up with funding for a warming shelter next winter open 24/7 for those with no place to call home.

The Barrie Housing and Homelessness Justice Network says the need has never been greater, pointing to the pandemic and rising inflation as root causes.

"Last year, the warming centre ran from January until March, and we helped 195 unique individuals, and I know that this year, they're running at capacity almost every night that they're open," said Jennifer Van Gennip, Barrie Housing and Homelessness Justice Network representative.

City councillors are currently in budget deliberations, prompting the organization to push for funding now rather than waiting until November.

The John Howard Society, which is currently running the warming centre, estimates a 24/7 centre would cost nearly $300,000 for rent and staff.

While Van Gennip said councillors shared her frustration when the organization brought a deputation forward at Wednesday's meeting, she feels there "wasn't a lot of appetite for the funding to come from the city."

She noted the City wants to see if the County would come through with funding first.

"The social service part of the budget is actually with the County of Simcoe, so that portion of it is going to be debated in a couple of weeks on March 8, and I would reckon at that point, we'll have more to say about that then," stated Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall.

In a statement, the County of Simcoe said it expects to bring a report with its plans for 2024 to Barrie council at the end of this winter, adding its ultimate goal is to find permanent housing for vulnerable members. Top Stories

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