Homeless couch surfing in the cold
Dennis Chippa says couch surfing has become a popular way for homeless people to ward off the cold this winter.
Chippa, who is the executive director of the North Bay Gathering Place soup kitchen, says that without a traditional warming center in North Bay since 2020 with the January COVID-19 lockdown, her customers are trying to do what they can to stay out from the cold.
“We let them in for a short time. It can’t be two or three hours at a time,” Chippa said, noting that they provide hot drinks, hot ladles and chicken broth for those who have it. need.
“We let them in for a few minutes and then they can leave and that’s really the best we can do. stay there,”
With the Gathering Place allowing guests to have more than one meal, Chippa says their homeless clients are actually grabbing that extra food to give their temporary tenant in exchange for a warm place to sleep.
“Whether it’s staying at somebody’s place; we see a lot of stuff where people come in and they’re going to have a meal and asking for an extra meal because they’re staying at somebody’s place and that’s the case, ‘I’ll bring you a meal and you can stay at my place. I think there’s a lot of emergency couch surfing going on,'” Chippa noted.
The Low Barrier Shelter is also helping to combat the cold as they have extended their opening hours until midday on cold days to allow homeless people to stay warm. Traditionally, the Chippewa Street facility closes during the day and reopens in the evening.
As for the Gathering Place itself, Chippa says they are working about 4-5% above normal for this time of year.
“As is always the case in January, it’s been pretty slow,” Chippa admitted.
“The first week was slow but it’s picked up steadily lately, it’s been busy.
“These people are getting government support and a lot of it arrived in December – much earlier than normal. So by this time in January they’ve run out of money, so they’re coming.”
Chippa notes that one of the signs of the lockdown is an increase in family guests.
“We’re seeing more families coming in, especially in the evenings and that’s a side effect of reduced part-time work due to the lockdown,” Chippa said.