The Gander group is calling for emergency shelters in the area to deal with hidden homelessness

A lobby group in Gander calls for emergency accommodation for the homeless in the region.  (Rodney Barney/Twitter - photo credit)

A lobby group in Gander calls for emergency accommodation for the homeless in the region. (Rodney Barney/Twitter – photo credit)

Rodney Barney/Twitter

Rodney Barney/Twitter

A Gander housing advocate says homelessness is more hidden in central Newfoundland than in places like St. John’s or Happy Valley-Goose Bay, but needs solutions just as badly.

Kimberley Beers, chair of Ganders Housing and Homelessness Network since October, says insecurity in her community is different from other areas. Rather than people visibly living on the streets, “hidden” homelessness refers to someone without a home but staying temporarily with family, friends, and others, often moving from place to place frequently.

“People can go from door to door — maybe they have a friend who they can stay in their house with for a day or two or maybe a week, but they really don’t have a permanent place to call their own,” Beers said Monday.

“We might not see the beggars or anything like that in the more obvious places [of the province] but we certainly have the problem here in our region.”

The organization, which has been around since 2011, successfully pushed to recruit a housing social worker, someone who could help point people in need to the right resources, who was called to the area in 2017, which helped ease the workload of the reduce advocacy. But the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed their work, Beers said, and magnified the problem.

Hotels not ideal solution

The group’s latest priority is to set up an emergency shelter in Gander, she said.

“It’s not just about finding places for people to couchsurf or be placed in hotels or be sent to animal shelters from our area,” Beers said.

“It would be to find a place where we can have real emergency shelter here in our region.”

She said hotels aren’t ideal because when Gander hosts a conference, rooms fill up quickly, taking away the availability of shelters. In this case, people who need protection are sometimes sent to St. John’s.

Beers said there also needs to be more affordable housing.

“Obviously we don’t want them to stay in an emergency shelter for long,” she said.

“Part of housing assistance isn’t just taking care of the actual roof over your head. We need to work together with our organizations and people at one table.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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