The city housed people last winter in the core but staff have a new plan this year
London’s Community and Protective Services Committee has endorsed the idea to use two of the city’s golf courses as locations for temporary shelters this winter for people experiencing homelessness.
The decision came after a long debate by councillors Tuesday regarding the locations of the shelters, since both golf courses are far from the downtown core at remote sites with limited transport.
As part of a proposed “winter response program for unsheltered individuals,” River Road Golf Course and Fanshawe Golf Course will house portable trailers that are prioritized for those who are “working toward their housing goals.” The River Road Golf Course is exclusively for Indigenous people.
There will be 60 shelter spaces across the two sites for select individuals, available for the duration of the project. It would run from Dec. 1 to Mar. 31, 2022 with the Fanshawe Golf Course site closing at the beginning of March.
“I think it is fair to say that we are moving some of them on,” said Coun. Anna Hopkins. “I think it’s okay to acknowledge that. Not to do something would be worse. And that is my concern. That’s why I’m supporting this. I look at this as a pilot project.”
The program isn’t limited to the golf courses. There would also be 48 daytime drop-in spaces and 40 overnight ones for those looking for a place to stay for eight hours or less, and 10 stabilization spaces for 24 to 72 hours. Many of the beds are in the downtown core or more populated areas.
The recommended program aims to deal with the need for more shelter as a result of COVID-19. The city already supports 300 beds at shelters across London which are often full, according to the city.
Unity Project’s executive director, Chuck Lazenby, said that she’s pleased resources are going into shelters for those experiencing homelessness over the winter despite being on the outskirts of the city.
“I would have a very different opinion if the two golf courses were the only options for people,” she said ahead of the committee meeting. “I think that would be just a terrible idea. But what I’m seeing here is that this is adding an option for some folks.”
Lazenby said she does hear from people who want to be away from city’s downtown core.
“They would really like to be removed from the kind of the activities that they’re engaged with within the core of the city.”
According to the staff report, “as part of last year’s response, the best results were achieved by those individuals who were able to achieve more privacy and, in a community, focused response.”
Full council will vote on the plan Nov. 16.
Original Article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/london-golf-courses-one-step-closer-to-being-used-as-temporary-winter-homeless-shelters-1.6235025