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Orillia Lighthouse operators say 'help is needed more than ever'


The Orillia Lighthouse is marking its 30th year in operation.

During that time, the organization has been working to combat homelessness throughout the city.

However, with rising rents and inflation, its operators say help is needed more than ever.

"Right here in our backyards, it's an epidemic," says The Lighthouse Development Manager Janet Thomas.

"The population is growing. There's only a certain amount of houses being built each year. I think the government and the city of Orillia are trying to do our best," says Orillia Ward 3 Councillor Jeff Czetwerzuk.

Communities are seeing the issue become more extreme as more individuals struggle to make ends meet.

"There was someone seeking medically assisted suicide because he was homeless and couldn't find housing. It shows just one example of just how desperate the situation is getting," says Orillia Ward 3 Councillor Jay Fallis.

The Lighthouse says social services facilities like theirs need more financial support. This is why they hope to set a national record for attendance with 1000 participants at the "coldest night of the year" fundraiser walk on February 26th.

"We're putting ourselves in the shoes of people experiencing this, and hopefully we can develop compassion and really feel for these people so we can get support behind them," says Orillia Ward 2 Councillor Luke Leatherdale.

"It sends a message that we care, and we need to change. And this shouldn't be happening in today's world," says Thomas.

The Lighthouse began as a youth centre 30 years ago and has evolved into a shelter for everyone while providing supportive housing, trying to adapt and change like the need.

"We all could find ourselves in a place where we might be experiencing homelessness. It's not necessarily the stigma of someone who's homeless. It's that it's a person who is experience homelessness," says The Lighthouse Operations Manager Trish Holloway.

The Lighthouse says loneliness is also a big issue for their clients, which is why they keep in touch even after participants find housing.

Their on-site medical clinic served 987 people in 2022, which they hope can ease some pressure on local emergency rooms. Top Stories

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