The Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board (RRDSSAB) has purchased the Apostolic Way Church located on 324 Victoria Ave. to have a permanent solution for the local homeless population.
Dan McCormick, chief administrative officer at RRDSSAB, said this purchase means they have a permanent location for the ‘Out of The Cold’ warming centre.
McCormick said even having a permanent shelter location does not solve the problem because it has to be coupled with treatment programs. One solution RRDSSAB is looking at is the Safe Beds Program which stays up to 30 days. McCormick said it is a treatment program that individuals usually join after they get recommendation from the OPP.
The second program RRDSSAB is working on is a Transition Bed Program where individuals go into a rehabilitation program for up to two years. McCormick said then they would try to get them into permanent housing in either a bachelor apartment or a one-bedroom apartment that they can afford depending on the income they have.
That being said, McCormick stressed that RRDSSAB’s priority is getting the homeless population off the streets, while knowing all too well that they will never be able to get all the people that are homeless into a program.
“Unfortunately, there will still be some people that either won’t participate or won’t be able to follow the rules. Those are going to be the hard ones to serve. When you’re in the programs there are no alcohol or drugs. There are requirements to be in at night. There are no guests in the building after certain hours,” McCormick said.
“But hopefully we can get even a percentage of those people through a program to get them into some stable housing and hopefully some stable employment.”
Right now, McCormick said RRDSSAB is working to get community partners such as the Canadian Medical Health Association, Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Authority and the Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre to help the homeless population in their transition to permanent housing. McCormick said they will also turn to Riverside to provide medical support.
“We are also starting to do the design and development work on it. There are job ads going out right now for workers to work there and that is going to be for contract duration from Dec. 1 until March 31, with possibility for extensions,” McCormick said.
Thus far, RRDSSAB secured $200,000 in funding through Reaching Home for capital improvement. The first $100,000 will be spent before March 31, 2021. They will go towards roofing on the rear portion of the church before winter; that portion currently leaks.
The latter $100,000 have to be spent in capital improvements between April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.
“We continue to work with the homelessness committee,” McCormick said. “There are several agencies involved with that. They help provide us with directions and ideas and obviously we are still working to form more partnerships to help these individuals.”