Hamilton adding new shelters and a warming bus as part of its winter response strategy for the homeless

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Published November 28, 2023 at 9:53 am

warming bus

A warming bus, extended hours at recreation centres and libraries and 180 shelter drop-in and warming spaces are a few of the measures the City of Hamilton and its partners are doing to help those experiencing homelessness this winter.

The steps are part of the City’s winter response strategy to better address the needs of its unhoused residents during the winter months.

The winter response strategy, effective December 1, will provide a warming bus, extended hours at select recreation centres and the Hamilton Public Library’s Central branch, 24-hour operational washroom facilities at two city parks, a hundred extra daytime shelter drop-in spaces and 80 overnight shelter warming spaces.

The warming bus, which can hold about 20 people and cost just over $217,000 for the season, will stop at designated locations near emergency shelters and drop-ins.

The plan is being implemented in an effort to provide a more “robust and effective response” to community needs, especially those living unhoused, said Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath. “Our Winter Response Strategy reflects our commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of unhoused individuals during the winter season. We’re committed to ensuring those who need more supports and options to keep warm during the harsh winter months will have those available to them.”

The strategy is not tied to the City’s existing cold alert system. The shelter options will be available December 1 to March 31, regardless of the temperature outdoors.

The strategy will cost the City $1,499,588, funded through the tax stabilization reserve.

Last year, 50 people stayed outside during winter months, the highest on record to date. The City expects this number to be “much greater” this winter.

For more information on the winter response strategy, including shelter locations and additional services, visit www.hamilton.ca/WinterResponse.

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