Even though it has been a milder-than-normal winter for Steinbach and area, it is still a challenge for the homeless population. That is according to Irene Kroeker, Executive Director for Steinbach Community Outreach (SCO).

Due to the stormy conditions on Tuesday, SCO decided to open as a warming shelter only for that day. Hamper pickups and the income tax clinic scheduled for Tuesday were closed.

Kroeker says staff at SCO realize that many people do not have the luxury of a warm home. Therefore, on a day like Tuesday, when the daytime temperature hovered around -17 degrees in Steinbach, the decision was made to invite these people to drop by their location and enjoy some hot food.

According to Kroeker, they had four staff members in on Tuesday and welcomed several visitors. 

"It's pretty cold out there," says Kroeker. "So, they do need the warmth."

In addition to being fed, Kroeker says staff also made sure that anyone who dropped by was well dressed for the conditions. 

As mentioned, though the weather this winter has generally been warmer than normal, most nights are still experiencing freezing temperatures, which creates a major challenge for homeless people.

"We do have people that come in that have very red hands," says Kroeker. "And definitely feet are always a big concern for everyone that's homeless."

She says they hear from people who talk about how tired they are from being up all night and from those who need to keep moving, just to stay warm. 

"They sleep in any corridor that they can find that's warm but then they do get kicked out of there sometimes," she explains. "(They) can't always stay there all night so then they keep walking."

After a couple of days of below-normal temperatures, Environment Canada is calling for a return to melting conditions by Thursday in Steinbach.


With files from Kenton Dyck