Compassion Needed For Homeless, Especially In Extreme Cold

Executive Director of the Downtown Mission, Run Dunn, seen on September 16, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

As another night of extreme cold passes, the executive director of Windsor’s Downtown Mission is asking the public to go the extra mile to help out those who don’t have a warm home.

In the past, the public has been encouraged to call police or emergency medical services if they see someone homeless and outside, especially at night, and Ron Dunn is issuing the call once more.

“People will die out in this weather, so we need to make sure nobody gets hurt,” he says.

The Mission recently underwent an expansion and now has 103 beds, but even with the added space, Dunn says they are at capacity.

“We’ve been a little bit past capacity on several nights over the last few weeks,” says Dunn. “That’s okay. We’ll put mats on the floor if we need to.”

One point of interest, says Dunn, is the increase in the number of women seeking shelter. While the Mission has 14 beds dedicated to women, 28 have sought refuge from the cold in recent nights.

Dunn suspects rising housing prices could be adding to the city’s homelessness problem.

“The people that I’ve spoken to, the folks that are experiencing homelessness, they talk a lot about the [unaffordability] now,” he says. “Everyone’s excited about the real estate market, myself included. My house is worth more now than it’s ever been worth, but that means people who are in renters situations are having a really tough time finding a place that’s affordable.”

Recently, the federal government announced a new affordable housing strategy. The ten-year plan commits $40-billion to combat chronic homelessness.