Downtown Regina outreach team finds homes and warm clothing for homeless as temperatures drop

·3 min read
The Downtown Regina Community Support team walks the city's core to help assist those who may be struggling with homelessness, mental health, and substance use. (Downtown Regina Community Support Team/Facebook - image credit)
The Downtown Regina Community Support team walks the city's core to help assist those who may be struggling with homelessness, mental health, and substance use. (Downtown Regina Community Support Team/Facebook - image credit)

A downtown Regina outreach project that started earlier this year has been helping people find housing and stay warm as winter arrives in the city.

The Downtown Regina Community Support team patrols the streets in extreme weather conditions and helped the city's vulnerable community members deal with record-breaking heat waves this summer and fall.

Program supervisor Alyssa Marinos said the team also works to help people deal with Regina's cold and windchill by providing winter clothing, warm drinks and even helping people find homes.

The team does wellness checks on people who may be struggling with homelessness, mental health or substance use. They offer food and water and respond to non-emergent calls from the public and police.

"The last few weeks have definitely been a race against time and weather to get folks houses," said Marinos.

"It's a struggle because it takes a lot of time. There's a lot of steps, there's a lot of meetings, there's a lot of things to do. So that's taking up a lot of our time and kind of shifted our outreach into almost like a case management role."

She said while the team offers help to connect people to services and those in crisis, she didn't realize the time it would take out of their usual patrols to help people find homes. Sometimes, locating housing can take up to six hours a day.

"It is hard for most people to do on their own," said Marinos.

Marinos and her team will go with people to appointments with social workers or housing support workers, helping individuals call social services and learn what to say to advocate for themselves, helping them get the right documents, identification, bank accounts, and filling out applications.

Samanda Brace/CBC News
Samanda Brace/CBC News

While the small but mighty team of four felt stretched thin, Marinos said they were able to find three people homes.

"We are so happy to see them ... having a home at the end of the day, a place to call their own, but especially before the winter hits," said Marinos.

Marinos said now that winter has arrived, people will often seek shelter indoors, so they will check parkades and stairwells to make sure people are safe and connect them to services they may need like at the Newo Yotina Friendship Centre.

"We have that unique ability to meet people where they're at, right on the streets. Other great agencies are doing some great work but don't have the resources to go out," said Marinos.

Downtown Regina Community Support Team/Facebook
Downtown Regina Community Support Team/Facebook

The team will also spend part-time walking the community and part-time at the pavilion on the City Square Plaza handing out hot chocolate, coffee, sandwiches and warm clothing.

Marinos said that if people would like to donate, they can drop off warm clothing including socks and gloves, hygiene items, snacks or groceries to make sandwiches at the pavilion.

The downtown community support team can be reached at (306) 537-3727 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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