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Regina warming shelter sees increase in visitors as temperatures drop

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Since it reopened on Dec. 1. Awasiw has seen over 415 people come through its doors.

The warming shelter was originally closed in June after funding was cut. Then in November, it received word more federal funding was on the way.

Community Health director at All Nations Hope Network, Melanie Kingston says the shelter offers people the most basic needs.

“Telephone, bathroom. A place to be warm, and a place to be safe.”

The building has chairs setup for 30 people, but Kingston says there is usually people waiting outside, so they have to ask people if they could let someone else in.

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“We try to keep the flow going through the doors like if somebody has been in here for two hours and somebody is outside waiting to come in, we’ll say ‘excuse me do you mind if we let someone else in and take turns'”.

Although Kingston knows Awasiws work is important. She worries they are putting a band-aid on a bigger issue. ” Homelessness is a huge issue in Regina and house vacancy is a huge issue in Regina,” adds Kingston. “I think the city need to do more.”

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On Nov. 15, the city launched the warming bus. It was used to temporarily alleviate the lack of warming shelters at the time. On Monday, the bus said farewell to its last visitor, closing its doors and letting local organizations take over.

The city says it fell short of providing quality community outreach. The shortcoming led to some violent situations.

“There have been reports of violence, sexual assault, drug and alcohol consumption,” Regina Mayor Sandra Masters told media on Nov. 30.

Kingston says Regina needs more organizations to help fight this issue in the Queen City and wishes the city’s warming bus stayed open.

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“I definitely think we need more. Just by the numbers that come through Awasiw, who aren’t we helping?”

Mayor Masters says she isn’t ruling out a potential return for the warming bus service but says safety of everyone inside it is their top priority.