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Rose Street overnight shelter in Barrie officially opens

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Barrie's temporary emergency overnight shelter on Rose Street is officially open for the season.

"Everyone's ready. It's just a matter of when the need is, and obviously, the weather will dictate some of that need. We do check our overnight shelter capacity and needs on our dashboards," said Simcoe County Social and Community Services general manager Mina Fayez-Bahgat.

The overflow shelter is an additional option on top of the shelters already available, including the alternative space program launching for the first time this year.

"For people that are coming to the locations around the city, they can let us know if they need a space, and then we'll send people up to Rose Street or one of the other shelters," said Busby Centre executive director Sara Peddle.

Up to 40 spaces will be available at this location, running from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. seven days a week until April 30, 2024.

Peddle said some members will move in Wednesday night.

"The housing crisis is still very much upon us, and so our shelter has been turning away anywhere from 10 to 15 people a night. Seeing this type of space open up is really a breath of fresh air because we don't wanna keep turning people away as the nights get colder," said Peddle.

Fayez-Bahgat believes this year's homeless winter response plan will be more effective than last year's.

"Since the strategy was launched in May and we began implementing in July, we have a lot more things at our disposal, including things like deeper rent subsidies, intensified outreach, more shelter spaces," said Fayez-Bahgat.

With more tents popping up around the city, the County is partnering with outreach teams to offer services to those living outside.

"To see what they wanna do, do they want to come in, where they want to head to, so that we can get them those resources, or do they wanna stay put and we can help them with some survival gear as well," said Peddle.

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