The temporary day shelter in Yellowknife is set to be closed on May 31.
The shelter, housed in the Mine Resources Building, was first opened after a State of Emergency was declared in Yellowknife, to meet demand for services for the city’s homeless population.
More than 40 users had been displaced by COVID-19 capacity restrictions at the existing sobering centre.
The capacity at the Mine Resources building allows for 25 users at a time, plus five staff. David Maguire, a spokesperson for the Health and Social Services Authority, says the shelter averages around 72 unique visits per day.
The average monthly cost to operate the shelter — including operating costs, staff costs, and lease costs – is $153,000.
“In general we can serve the needs of the clients as they don’t stay in the shelter all day, shelter users come and go and we are finding less periods of “at capacity” times as the weather warms,” said Maguire.
But the Mine Resources day shelter was intended to be temporary when it was first setup. With the closure of that location, the territorial government is weighing up its options to build a new permanent site.
A vacant lot on 51st Street, behind the Tree of Friendship Centre, has been shortlisted as one of the health department’s preferred locations for a new permanent day shelter.
Perry Heath, director of infrastructure planning for the Department of Health and Social Services, says while the application process hasn’t begun, the spot is near the top of the health department’s list.
That lot was chosen for a number of reasons, one of them being the fact it is downtown.
The space is set to accommodate 99 people in total, with 60 people able to use the day shelter at a time, as well as 30 overnight beds. Twenty-eight of those are open access with two beds available for people with accessibility issues.