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Winter Warming Plan and shelter programs support the homeless in Durham Region

LEIGH McEACHRAN, Communications Advisor, Region of Durham

DURHAM: Everyone deserves a roof over their head and warmth this winter, which is why the Region of Durham provides shelter programs and a Winter Warming Plan to support unsheltered residents.


People experiencing homelessness, or those who are marginally housed, are some of the most at-risk groups for cold-related illnesses, including hypothermia, frostnip and frostbite, and trench foot. Cold weather can also worsen existing health conditions, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The effects of cold weather can be experienced for up to 21 days following exposure.

When Environment Canada forecasts a temperature of -15°C or colder and/or a wind chill of -20 or colder, the Durham Region Health Department issues an Extreme Cold Weather Alert. Emergency shelters expand their services to help protect unsheltered residents by remaining open during the day, adding mats/cots and using hotel space as needed.

Individuals staying in a shelter will have an opportunity to connect with support and services while there, as Durham Region shelter programs are housing-focused, a process which helps to end homelessness.

The Region is part of a nationwide effort, called the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness - Built for Zero Canada program which helps communities end chronic homelessness. Through real-time data collection, the Region and its service partners can better address homelessness in Durham. Residents who give consent are added to a By-Name List, of people experiencing homelessness, and are then connected with support to help house them.

“The Region of Durham strives to ensure, no one gets left behind or falls through the cracks. Providing warmth and shelter to vulnerable populations, during the cold winter months, is one way the Region actively supports our belief that every person deserves a warm place to stay this winter,” stated John Henry, Regional Chair and CEO, Region of Durham.

Currently, all warming programs are located in South Durham. However, North Durham, consisting of the townships of Brock, Scugog and Uxbridge, are being serviced by Community Living Durham North and North House.

The Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) Outreach Workers, from Community Living Durham North, will be coordinating hotel assistance directly for people residing in the North, who cannot be accommodated through the housing-focused emergency shelters or overnight warming spaces. Their office line is 905-852-5919, and they can also be emailed, at cbranchaud@cldn.ca or ddesouza@cldn.ca.

North House can provide transportation help (i.e. bus tickets, etc.), for people residing in the North, to access housing-focused emergency shelters or overnight warming programs. They can be reached at 705-432-8654 or 1-877-406-8723. Offices are only open during business hours, Monday to Friday. If you need help after hours, you can contact the shelter program directly for assistance.

Every person deserves a place to call home; it is a basic human right.

Learn more about homelessness in Durham Region and winter supports, at https://www.durham.ca/en/living-here/emergency-shelters.aspx.

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