Hamilton extends warm-up center hours following ‘gap’ in weekend service – Hamilton | PKBNEWS

The City of Hamilton has implemented an “interim solution” after some city-run warming centers routinely closed when a cold weather alert was lifted over the weekend.

Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health issued the notification on Friday in hopes that wind chill readings would reach around -27 in the afternoon and persist through Saturday night.

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The alert opens recreation centers and library warm-up spots to the public, including people considered vulnerable and homeless.

Described as a “service gap” by Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath, city staff on Tuesday launched support measures to extend hours at two locations – The Hub on Vine Street and Central Memorial Recreation on West Street .

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The Hub will remain open throughout the New Year’s weekend and the Central Memorial will operate late between December 31 and January 2, 2023.

Councilors thanked residents and organizations who stepped up their funding and other support over the weekend, which allowed the HUB to remain open through the nights.

District 3 Com. Nrinder Nann called the weekend’s “gap” a “systemic administrative failure” that “needs to be changed”.

She went on to say that the province “denying funding for these supports has a direct impact.”

The adviser was referring to the Ford government refusing a request from the city in early December for more money to deal with its housing crisis.

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The province has allocated some $52 million in 2022 for housing and homelessness programs in Hamilton, including about $23.5 million through a new homelessness prevention program.

In a letter to the city, Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark revealed that this was a 4% year-over-year increase for the city and that the province could not provide additional funding for the coming year at this time.

Councilors approved $125,000 on Dec. 7 to address the current cold-warning gaps the city is facing with its homeless population this winter. The funding, largely from 2022 budget surpluses, is expected to improve overnight walk-in services.

A number of emergency shelters in Hamilton reported difficulties, with operations at or near capacity on Christmas Eve.

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Although city-run outlets offer warm-up locations, vulnerable people and homeless people have faced understaffed outlets due to recruitment issues, according to the director of housing services from the city.

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Michelle Baird, of Hamilton Public Health, told PKBNEWS that outreach workers would be out in bad weather to contact those in need, but said the number of staff available for overnight services was “concerning “.

“City Council recently invested $125,000 to try to expand overnight drop-in services, so we’re appealing to try to get more agencies involved beyond the hub,” Baird said. “But other than that, we’re trying quite cautiously to get back to a pre-pandemic state when it comes to shelter operations.”

Baird said the triple threat of viral infections COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) spreading through the city is also contributing to absences and additional worry since shelter beds require monitoring.

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