‘We’re in crisis mode’: Brandon homeless shelter overwhelmed

A homeless shelter in Brandon is putting out the call for help after having to turn unsheltered people away this week.

“We’re in crisis mode,” said Samaritan House Ministries Executive Director Barbara McNish.

Samaritan House is the only emergency shelter in Brandon. McNish estimates that their 41 beds provide a place to sleep for only 10 per cent of people experiencing homelessness in the city.

She said the shelter was overwhelmed this week, forcing the shelter to turn people away for the first time this season. As temperatures drop, McNish is worried about those who will be forced to sleep outside this winter.

“If it’s 40 below you can’t sleep outside in the encampments anymore. You can’t couch surf, or couch surfing helps put other people at risk of losing their housing,” she said. “There’s dominos effects. And so looking at the whole big picture is just really, well it’s a magnitude of problems.”

McNish said emergency meetings are being held with community members, partner organizations, as well as city and provincial officials to figure out how to keep unhoused Brandonnites out of the cold.

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