The numbers are eye-opening. On any given night in Canada, more than 4,000 women and 2,400 children are living in emergency shelters.
“Homelessness is devastating and confusing when you have no choice but to leave an unsafe situation,” says 59-year-old Marguerite. “After a family altercation I ended up couch surfing with friends. Then I moved from shelter to shelter. Today, thanks to The Salvation Army, I’m living in my own apartment.”
In May 2016 Marguerite moved into Cedar Place, a Salvation Army emergency shelter in Sudbury, Ont., which offers refuge, meals and critical services to women and children experiencing homelessness.
“There are many factors that contribute to an individual being homeless,” says Cindy Bertolo, shelter manager. “Some have been evicted because they couldn’t pay hydro and gas bills. Others have fled abusive partners. Others have been victimized by their adult children. Our primary goal is to walk alongside our guests to help them find affordable and sustainable housing.”
The Salvation Army in Sudbury has served women and families experiencing homelessness since 2006. For five years they operated out of several motels and, in 2011, moved to their current location that is a 12-bedroom, 77,500 square foot house. With the rise in the number of single, custodial, dad’s in crisis, they also offer hotel support and provide meals, snacks, transportation and connection to housing supports and assistance.
“Ashley, a single father of two daughters, came to us when he received notice of his house foreclosure,” says Bertolo. “His mother had died, who assisted him while he worked out of town. Unwilling to allow his children to be in the care of anyone else, he left his job to be their full-time caregiver. Soon after Ashley lost everything―his car, his truck and his house. He came to us in tears with nowhere else to turn. We housed him in a motel and, six days after he presented to us, he had a new, subsidized co-operative housing unit.
“The beds at Cedar Place are rarely empty,“ says Bertolo. “I have to wonder where people would go if this facility wasn’t here.”