With extreme cold warnings this week, Regina Mobile Crisis is seeing a spike in the number of calls for help from people who find themselves homeless.
Between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, workers at Mobile Crisis dealt with 60 to 100 calls every day — almost double what they would normally get over the holidays.
John McFadden is the executive director at Mobile Crisis Regina, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help people in different crisis situations.
He said when the weather gets dangerously cold, there is an impact on services as more people look for a warm place to stay.
“We also work with the city police and city police cells in relation to ensuring that nobody’s left out in the cold,” McFadden explained.
He said people find themselves homeless for a variety of reasons, from being evicted suddenly to fleeing domestic violence.
Mobile Crisis keeps a list of all available shelter beds in the city, including the emergency men’s-only shelters such as Salvation Army Waterston Centre and Soul’s Harbour Rescue Mission, along with the youth shelter and various women’s facilities.
McFadden said Mobile Crisis operates at all hours because the number of beds available often changes very quickly.
“There’s no predictability at what time of day people will be trying to access the shelters, or what time of day they will be filling up that we’ll have to look for alternate accommodation.”
The brief detox program is a common alternative for people who aren’t allowed to stay at a shelter because they are intoxicated.
McFadden noted regardless of the weather, women’s shelters are almost always full year-round and spaces that do open up are often filled quickly.
During this extreme cold snap, men’s shelters and even the detox centre are getting close to maximum capacity with some of the overflow beds in use.
In some emergency situations, if there are no spaces available in shelters, Mobile Crisis works with the Ministry of Social Services to put people up in hotel rooms temporarily. McFadden said that happens a few times a week.