With temperatures dropping, Start Me Up Niagara (SMUN) the City of Niagara Falls and Niagara Region have worked jointly to open warming centres to give those who are vulnerable and may be experiencing homelessness a safe, warm indoor place to rest and access amenities.
This weekend, the Niagara Falls History Museum, 5810 Ferry St. and Niagara Falls Public Library – Victoria Avenue branch, 4848 Victoria Ave., will be open to provide relief from the cold, access to restrooms and other supports for individuals in need, hours of operation can be found on the City of Niagara Falls website.
This will be followed by the opening of a warming centre at Coronation Centre, 5925 Summer St., in Niagara Falls at 12 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17. The centre is open seven days a week from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. with an end date of April 15, 2022. Once inside, visitors are welcome to a light meal, restrooms and other supports from staff including accessing services. The warming centre is accessible through the Summer Street entrance.
The current pandemic measures for community organizations and businesses such as reduced availability and capacity has resulted in a decrease to in-person contacts and closures have caused a sudden disruption in access to services for individuals experiencing homelessness. These closures include resources that individuals typically rely on to meet basic needs (i.e. public spaces, restrooms, food, etc.) The homelessness system also continues to be challenged by reduced capacities in other systems such as corrections, violence against women shelters, mental health safe beds and the hospital. These combined pressures, coupled with colder winter months have resulted in the need for Niagara for more resources during the day in the winter months.
Mayor Jim Diodati stated, “It’s a priority to ensure that those in need in our community have opportunities to come inside during the cold weather, get warm, eat a meal and access important services. This is a great use of the Coronation 50+ Centre while other programming has shifted from there and we thank our partners for helping to make this happen at a critical time.”
This partnership between SMUN, City of Niagara Falls, and Niagara Region will provide additional supports to individuals facing homelessness in Niagara Falls. In addition to the Temporary Winter shelter located at St. Andrew’s United Church located at 5645 Morrison St., Niagara Falls, individuals also have the option to have breakfast at Third Space Café located at 4345 Queen St. in Niagara Falls from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. every day of the week.
Laura Dumas, Executive Director of Start Me Up Niagara says, “I am very grateful to Niagara Region for providing the funds to make this endeavor possible and am also very grateful to the City of Niagara Falls for providing such a great location for those in need to access much needed services.”
As a Built for Zero community, we continue to develop solutions to achieve our goal of reducing overall chronic homelessness within Niagara while we adjust to respond to the pandemic and the urgent needs of those within our community.