Video – Port Hope United Church Addresses Senior Homelessness

In Community, Editor Choice, Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Homelessness among seniors is, sadly, a growing phenomenon – one which Rev. Kevin Moore of Port Hope United Church has established the Warm and Dry Fund to address during the coldest season of the year.

In a time where governments fall short of what communities need, Rev, Moore said in a recent interview, it falls to the communities themselves to take creative measures.

When he heard of two older gentlemen who had been scheduled to go into the sleeping-cabin collective at the George Hamilton Public School in Welcome, and then learned that the project had fallen through for a variety of reasons, he knew something had to be done.

It was before Christmas, he said, and these two gentlemen “were literally out in the cold, sleeping in their cars.”

While one of them was able to get some accommodation through Northumberland County’s Community and Social Services division, the other did not seem to be getting very far.

“We got the word out and took up a collection on-line and in-person, and we were able to raise enough to put him in a motel for a couple of months,” Moore said.

In the interim, they heard from a couple who had space in their basement that might be put to use. Both parties met, and the result is that the gentleman is about to move into that space. He will have a bedroom, a three-piece bathroom, and space for a microwave and small refrigerator – quite suitable for a senior, Moore noted. In return, he will be giving the couple a small stipend to help with utilities.

“It basically means he’s got a place to live,” he said.

His vacating the motel room early means that another woman – whom he learned of from his contact at the Help Centre – will be able to get a roof over her head for the remainder of that time.

“And we still have some money in that account to try to see if we can help a few more folks, because there are others in the same spot,” Moore said.

Moore has learned from his Help Centre contact that there are a lot of homeless seniors in our community, many of them the victims of renovictions. This has been a growing practice in recent years – a landlord evicting a tenant so that renovations can be done. This entitles him to raise the rent, sometimes far beyond what the former tenant can afford. And there are not always other affordable units around as an alternative.

“I thought it would make sense to put the word out and see if there are others like that, see if there are a few more seniors looking for somewhere to stay within their price range.” Moore said.

“It occurred to me, it would be great if there were others that have a finished basement,” he continued.

“We’re not talking about moving someone in from the tents, we’re talking about seniors finding a place to live – if it’s the right fit.”

Not everyone has spare space, but Moore hopes enough donations can make a dent, especially with the co-operation they are getting from a local motel.

“We are not throwing the money around. We will use it judiciously to help people if they are sleeping in their car,” he said.

“It gets them out of the cold so they can at least have some time to warm up and try out, and hopefully find a more permanent solution.”

Spending the winter in a car is not good enough, he stated.

“This will help in the short term, while we look for a more permanent space.”

If you can help the Warm and Dry Fund, visit the Port Hope United Church website and click on the Donate Now box in the upper right-hand corner.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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