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City funding keeps shelter open

Helping Hands board member Jake Hamm looks over the newest location of the city’s emergency homeless shelter as it opened its doors on Dec. 10.

COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Helping Hands board member Jake Hamm looks over the newest location of the city’s emergency homeless shelter as it opened its doors on Dec. 10.

A local emergency shelter for the homeless has secured enough funding to keep its doors open until the end of January.

City council approved $4,000 in emergency funding for the Safe and Warm program during Monday’s council meeting.

Helping Hands opened its doors for the first time on Dec. 10, giving some of Brandon’s homeless shelter from the cold.

But providing a room with heat and mats to sleep on isn’t a problem. The problem is the high cost of hiring security for the shelter.

"We’re actively looking at other options, but right now we need some funding to keep it going," Helping Hands board member Jake Hamm told councillors.

Hiring two guards to work 12-hour shifts costs $432 per night. Security guards need to be on hand so the shelter coincides with Workplace Safety and Health guidelines, Hamm said.

He added that Helping Hands is looking into less expensive alternatives.

The program has been operating over the last couple of days on contributions from local businesses and private donors.

Hamm told councillors Helping Hands plans to connect with local police and Assiniboine Community College police academy students willing to volunteer. Security volunteers are required to have police or military training, Hamm said.

"Even if we could cut four or five hours out of a regular shift that would cut down cost," he said.

In the future, Helping Hands hopes to be able to offer more long-term emergency housing for the homeless with more amenities, Hamm said.

"Providing a place to sleep for people who may not be employed because they don’t have a place to spend the night, they don’t have a place to shower in the morning, it makes them unemployable."

Those in need of Brandon’s emergency shelter have to access it through the 7th Street Health Access Centre. The centre is open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day.

Helping Hands emergency shelter, which sleeps 10, is now open 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. until at least the end of January.

The Safe and Warm program is a joint effort between Helping Hands Soup Kitchen, the Salvation Army, local churches, Samaritan House Ministries, Prairie Mountain Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Those interested in donating money to the shelter can do so by giving to the Safe and Warm fund. Cheques should be made out to Samaritan House Ministries.

Further financial support from the City of Brandon will be up for discussion during council’s budget deliberations on Jan. 10 and 11.

» lenns@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 18, 2013

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A local emergency shelter for the homeless has secured enough funding to keep its doors open until the end of January.

City council approved $4,000 in emergency funding for the Safe and Warm program during Monday’s council meeting.

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A local emergency shelter for the homeless has secured enough funding to keep its doors open until the end of January.

City council approved $4,000 in emergency funding for the Safe and Warm program during Monday’s council meeting.

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