Things heat up for shelters as temperature drops



Tracey Tong/metro ottawa


Wilson Matong sits outside the Ottawa Mission yesterday. Although this week’s cold snap has proved a challenge for the city’s homeless, Matong said being able to stay at the shelter this winter made it "not so bad."


A plunge in temperature sees a spike in action by city shelters to bring the homeless in out of the cold.

Staff at Shepherds of Good Hope are taking a more proactive role as the weather gets colder, ensuring clients are taken care of, said spokesman Rob Eady. "Our street community outreach team always have mittens and hats with them and they make sure clients make it indoors," said Eady. "Winter is hard on everyone, homeless or not."

Shelters also do more communicating with each other during the winter.

"We do coordinating between shelters," said Jay Fox, senior manager at the Ottawa Mission. "And for anyone who’s going between shelters, we make sure they arrive."

Wilson Matong, who has been living at the Ottawa Mission for the past three months, said having a place to stay this winter made it "not so bad." But others who don’t come in out of the cold still need to be equipped so they can make it through the progressively colder nights.

Jennifer Crawford, assistant manager of client services at the Ottawa Mission, said the clothing room is "bombarded" whenever the weather turns cold.

"The guys are looking for sweaters to layer," she said. "We can’t keep up with the need for mittens and toques."

She said the shelter also opens spaces that aren’t usually available to accommodate those seeking shelter to the cold.

"Our policy is not to turn anyone away," she said.

"I think Ottawa does a fairly good job of making sure people are safe and able to access warm spots in the evening," Fox said. "But there can always be more (done)."

open doors

  • The Ottawa Mission will often open its dining room during off-hours to accommodate people in the winter.