COVID-19 highlights homelessness across Simcoe County
BARRIE, ONT. -- The pandemic has highlighted the issue of homelessness across the region, with an increase in capacity at shelters and hotels acting as shelters.
"Where we used to be at 14 individuals, we're now at 40 to 45 individuals a night," said Linda Goodall, The Lighthouse Soup and Kitchen Shelter in Orillia.
The County of Simcoe, along with the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness, conducts a homeless enumeration every two years. In 2018, the count found nearly 700 people experience homelessness across Simcoe County to some degree.
COVID-19 has made conducting this year's survey challenging because of a lack of volunteers and resources.
Goodall said they are trying to get a handle on numbers on their end. "We've been able to capture some people here with our bagged launch program. We have outreach workers that have come up from Barrie. We're just doing our best to capture as many as we can," she said.
The last survey found 305 people were experiencing homelessness in Barrie, 128 in Midland and 97 in Orillia.
The county's enumeration has three days left to be completed, and when done, they anticipate having more concrete answers on whether the numbers have increased since 2018 and what can be done to reduce them.