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 make existing health conditions worse, 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 supports and services while there, as Durham Region shelter programs are housing-focused—a process that helps to end homelessness.

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

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 durham.ca/EmergencyShelters.

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