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'Disappointed': Groups scrambling to find new housing for homeless

'We're human, we have hearts and we all have a story on why we're here,' says woman evicted from Barrie hotel
Kim Beauvais, standing outside the Days Inn on Hart Drive in Barrie, is a former temporary resident at the hotel through the Salvation Army's Emergency Family Shelter Program. She recently moved out prior to the hotel's eviction deadline of Dec. 1 that they gave the community organization.

Groups are scrambling to find new accommodations for several homeless people in Barrie after a deadline to leave was set at a local hotel. 

The Salvation Army’s emergency family shelter program, a short-term, 30-day housing initiative, will no longer have space allocated in the Days Inn hotel on Hart Drive in Barrie as of Dec. 1, according to the organization.

Kim Beauvais, who had been residing there since July as part of the shelter program, said she wasn’t waiting around and left the hotel last Friday to stay with family in Port McNicoll in the Midland area, as she tries to find more suitable living arrangements.

She lived at the Days Inn with her five-year-old son and three-year-old grandson, along with her 19-year-old daughter with her seven-month-old child.

“Now I'm facing being homeless yet again,” she recently told BarrieToday in the lobby of the hotel before she chose to leave.

“There are families here with disabilities, newborns, toddlers, young children still in elementary school, elderly, and we're all scared,” Beauvais added.

“We're human, we have hearts and we all have a story on why we're here,” she said. “Mine being my ex got us evicted from up in Elliot Lake, and I escaped that horror with my boys, and my 19-year-old saved me.”

The Salvation Army’s Barrie Bayside Mission, which works with individuals and families, says it is “struggling" to secure long-term housing for those affected. 

"We understand the complexities of finding affordable housing in Barrie,” the Salvation Army said in a statement emailed to BarrieToday by Glenn van Gulik, divisional secretary for public relations with the organization's Ontario division.

He said the Salvation Army was “surprised” by the hotel’s decision, and is “disappointed in the amount of notice given to try and locate the families in our program.”

“We sympathize with the families in our program,” the statement said. “We will continue to work with them to secure suitable placement during this time with a long-term goal to set them on a pathway to permanent housing.”

A BarrieToday reporter reached out to the manager of the Days Inn by email, along with a visit to the hotel to speak with them, but was unsuccessful in making contact for comment on the issue. 

The news comes as shelters in the city are over capacity with growing numbers of people experiencing homelessness in the area.

A temporary emergency overnight shelter recently opened to Barrie’s homeless population as the region gets ready for another winter.

Located at 20 Rose St., near Bayfield Street and Highway 400, it has space for up to 30 people this winter season. It receives funding from the County of Simcoe through its "winter response" programming, with financial contribution from the City of Barrie.

The Rose Street shelter will be open from 6 p.m. until 10 a.m., seven days a week, until April 30, 2024.

During extreme weather and statutory holidays, it will remain open for people who are staying there.

Jennifer van Gennip, communications director for Redwood Park Communities, said it is also getting calls each week from desperate families being evicted, or living in their vehicles, and feeling very much out of options.

“It seems to be on the rise as housing costs make housing even more precarious for more and more people and the shelter system is at capacity," she told BarrieToday.

She says construction continues on Redwood Park's transitional housing project on Lillian Crescent, with the first families moving in soon.

“It should be ready to open in the next few months, and we know it can't get open fast enough to meet this need," van Gennip said. 

Once open, the Lillian Crescent facility, located near Livingstone Street West and Anne Street, will have 12 fully furnished, two-bedroom apartments for families in a housing crisis, supported by staff from both the Salvation Army and Redwood Park. Its goal is to make sure families get back on their feet and into permanent housing quickly.

Van Gennip noted the facility will be the only family-focused, short-term housing centre in the city. 

The Busby Centre, a community not-for-profit organization in Barrie, is also planning to expand its shelter operations into an adjacent building at 90 Mulcaster St.

Their existing shelter has just less than 6,000 square feet at 88 Mulcaster and will gain roughly 10,000 square feet at 90 Mulcaster.

The original location serves approximately 125 to 150 individuals within a 24-hour period, with the new space to be welcoming many more.