Number of people turned away because homeless shelter is full increased in last few months of 2019

The number of homeless people in Thompson may be growing, as increasing numbers of people are being turned away from the homeless shelter because it is full.

Thompson Homeless Shelter and Canadian Mental Health Association - Thomson executive director Paullette Simkins said at the city’s Jan. 9 public safety meeting that the number of people being turned away has increased in recent months.

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In September, 108 people requesting shelter were turned away because the facility was full. In October, the number was 134, in November it was 154 people and in December it was 206.

“We’ve noticed that there’s new faces in town,” Simkins said, including many in their 20s and 30s.

In response to a question from Mayor Colleen Smook about whether more people who have been banned from Northern Manitoba First Nations by band council resolutions are showing up in Thompson, acting Thompson RCMP detachment officer-in-charge Chris Hastie said police haven’t noticed an increase in people banned from their First Nations.

Under the city’s cold weather policy, which provides a warm-up building at the Eastwood outdoor ice rink for people to spend the night in when the homeless shelter is full and the overnight temperature is expected to drop to -35 Celsius or lower, including windchill, about 150 people have been housed so far this winter, 92 of them male and 62 of them female.

Simkins also said people staying at the Thompson Homeless Shelter and at the Project Northern Doorway residence at 95 Cree Road are reporting various problems, including wheelchair users having difficulty accessing the Cree Road facility because there is no gate facing Cree Road and the alley behind the building can be hard to travel on when snow doesn’t get cleared. One resident of 95 Cree Road, who has both legs amputated, has reported being refused service by a taxi company with wheelchair-accessible vehicles. 

Homeless people have also reported being approached by young people and verbally insulted and threatened, Simkins said.

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