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Out of The Cold Collingwood is led by a community task force that is guided by the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness and operated under the direction of The Busby Centre and Community Connection.  Our Task force members are community volunteers who are passionate about the program that provides a warm, safe place to sleep, a nutritious meal and access to hygiene and health supplies and support services.

The Busby Centre:  First started as a drop in centre in 1993 and driven by a philosophy of empowerment, The Busby Centre is a community not-for-profit organization working from a non-judgmental approach to advocate for and improve conditions for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

Community Connection, is a charity established in 1969 as a telephone counselling centre, clothing depot and volunteer registry. Today their Community Navigators connect people to services by offering information provision, needs assessment, advocacy, follow up and crisis intervention by telephone (24/7 through the national 211 helpline), online chat, text, email and walk-in assistance.

Why do we need an Out of The Cold program:

Out of The Cold Collingwood (OOTC) is a temporary overnight emergency winter shelter from November 2019 – April 2020 lead by the non-profit, accredited agencies, The Busby Centre and Community Connection. It is more than overnight accommodation; rather a centralized and safe space where youth over 16 years, individuals and families with dependents experiencing homelessness are connected to resources to go from homeless to sheltered to housed.

The need is real. Between April 2018 and March 2019, through their 211 helpline, Community Connection responded to 409 calls from South Georgian Bay residents with urgent housing needs. Of these, 59 were experiencing homelessness. The need is growing. During April and June 2019, Community Connection responded to 288 calls from South Georgian Bay residents with urgent housing needs. Of these, 50 were experiencing homelessness.  In the first 9 months of the shelter operation, almost 70 individual participants were sheltered representing over 2,000 bed nights, close to 4,000 meals served and over 700 community support connections made.

We are currently one of the only towns in Simcoe County who does not have an emergency shelter. ​We are working with the community through a feasibility study to look at establishing a permanent emergency shelter in South Georgian Bay.

Often people are working but not earning a living wage in order to maintain a normal standard of living. In Simcoe County, the living wage is calculated to be $18.01 per hour. People become homeless for lots of different reasons, a lack of affordable housing, are low income with no financial safety net, and/or life events such as landlord eviction, addictions or disability. No one plans to be homeless and everyone deserves a home.

The hidden homeless are people who access accommodation but have no immediate prospect of permanent or stable housing. These are people paying more than they can afford in rent or are staying with family or friends — eventually, time runs out on the sustainability of these options. The result is an increasing homeless population living in their cars, in tents or improvised shacks and on the street.

We are a collaborative response to a growing housing crisis in South Georgian Bay and nationally

  • We have strong leadership using a collective impact model with a long-term, sustainable plan.
  • Working within the Town of Collingwood, there is a strong desire for our town to be a leader for others. We are currently one of the only towns in Simcoe County who does not have an emergency shelter. 

We help those most at risk from violence and/or exploitation by preventing the cycle of oppression

  • We provide a centralized, safe space to assist people on their journey to a healthier life.
  • We have professional programming with trained staff to provide an inclusive, compassionate environment.
  • Our co-ordinated intake and referrals are designed to ensure people get the appropriate housing and service options available for their needs.

We promote people working together for the greater good

  • We have an allied network of organizations and leaders collaborating to support and advance our collective efforts.
  • We provide education to promote understanding and awareness of often hidden experiences.

How Does the Out of The Cold program work?

Out of The Cold Collingwood is an emergency winter shelter that will operate overnight between November and April.

COVID UPDATE:  Since March, the program has been operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in a local hotel where participants can safely distance and self-isolate.  Emergency funding is being temporarily provided through the Federal and Provincial governments and is coordinated by the County of Simcoe at this time for general operations that do not include food and other necessities.  Please follow our Facebook page for status updates.  

Shelter services are for anyone – youth, couples, individuals and families.

The shelter currently has a capacity for twelve participants each night. Stays in the shelter are not expected to be long term, just until appropriate housing is found. Each person or family will be entered into our regional homeless case management system and connected with the most appropriate service provider who will work with them to secure housing. The information collected about shelter users will only be accessed by qualified homeless services organizations.

Qualified and trained paid staff are always on-site and are supported by screened and trained volunteers. Pre-established protocols are in place with police and crisis services.

Example timeline of the nightly shelter schedule:

  • 7:00 pm Clients are screened and assessed as they arrive, and case management services offered.
  • 7:30 pm Clients will be served a warm meal and provided personal hygiene/health items as needed.
  • 9:30 pm Lights out.
  • 6:00 am Lights on.
  • 7:00 am Shelter closes for the day.

What is the long term plan for homelessness?

Community Connection is the lead agency for funding, reporting and administration for the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness’ Housing First Coordination. Housing First is a recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing and then providing additional supports and services as needed.

Community Connection is also the lead agency for the funding, reporting and administration of the federal Reaching Home program objectives in the County of Simcoe. Reaching Home is Canada’s homelessness strategy and community-based programming aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness. Reaching Home provides funding to urban, Indigenous, rural and remote communities to reduce chronic homelessness nationally by 50% by March 2028.

The Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness is a coalition committed to ending homelessness. Through alignment with an ambitious national change effort and partnership with the County of Simcoe, the Alliance has established Built For Zero Simcoe County, a team of community leaders that are part of a national change effort to help communities end homelessness. Built For Zero is a structured, supportive and data-driven approach focused on creating a sense of urgency, optimizing local homeless systems, accelerating the adoption of proven practices and driving continuous improvement.