GODERICH – New funding and specially trained staff have helped Huron County expand on their Out of the Cold program.
The new program, which opens Nov. 16, aims to provide an emergency shelter that also offers wrap-around support for homeless individuals in Huron County, said an announcement released on Nov. 6.
“It’s important that we build relationships with vulnerable members in our community, including those who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless,” Warden Jim Ginn said.
“Our Social and Property Services staff along with The Canadian Mental Health Association
(CMHA) Elgin-Middlesex and Choices for Change will be coordinating an emergency shelter that also provides wrap-around services with a long-term goal of ensuring that all Huron County community members have a home.”
The emergency shelter will be located in Goderich at Lakeshore United Church. It will accommodate up to 15 individuals per evening, with meals provided, for the cold weather season.
The CMHA, in partnership with Choices for Change, said the Huron Out of the Cold: Heart to Home program will be staffed with trained professionals and aims to provide wrap-around supports and services with a goal of transitioning guests into permanent housing solutions.
“As a community mental health agency, we know how critical and necessary wrap-around supports are in helping individuals who are experiencing or are at risk for homelessness,” says Beth Mitchell, CEO of CMHA Elgin-Middlesex.
“We look forward to working closely with our partners and the community to ensure those most vulnerable are receiving the supports they need, such as a listening ear, coping strategies, a connection to housing resources and other services, and more.”
Choices for Change is an alcohol, drug, and gambling counselling centre serving Huron and Perth Counties.
Choices for Change Executive Director Catherine Hardman said, “Although not all individuals experiencing homelessness have addiction and/or mental health issues, it is important to have that expertise available for those that do. We are glad to work with CMHA to provide support to those in the shelter and assist in their move to more permanent housing.”
A press release said Huron County and its partner agencies are dedicated to taking immediate and long-term actions to improve the quality of life for all Huron County residents. These actions encompass inclusivity and awareness of intersectionality, acknowledging the differences and complexities for every individual in need of support.
“The town of Goderich is supportive of this important initiative being located in our community,” says Goderich Mayor, John Grace.
“Ensuring the safety of all of our community members during the colder season is of critical importance. I am glad that we have been able to work with the county of Huron and all of the partner agencies and municipalities on the Homelessness Task Force to make this emergency shelter happen.”
The county extended its thanks to the Lakeshore United Church and every other agency, community group, and volunteer, who has and continues to contribute time and resources for Huron’s Out of the Cold program and show compassion to taking care of the community’s most vulnerable persons.
For more information on Huron Out of the Cold: Heart to Home, including emergency shelter contacts, please visit www.huroncounty.ca/housing.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times