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Living Space celebrates grand opening (5 photos)

Unique hub connects people to services they need

A hub dedicated to ending chronic homelessness in Timmins has officially marked its grand opening.

Work on Living Space on Cedar Street North started a year ago, with the doors to the emergency shelter opening over the winter.

“It’s somewhat of a unique facility when it comes to serving homelessness only because we had to have the shelter, Timmins needs a place where people can stay warm, sometimes even in July unfortunately," said Brian Marks, Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board CAO.

"What we wanted to do was provide a forum where people could be connected with the services that they need."

To address that need, the main floor of the building will be a service hub and the top floor offers transitional housing.

Along with being a space for community programming, he said they’re also adding space for a primary care facility, whether it be a doctor or nurse practitioner.  

One of the goals, he said, is for employees to see people overnight and make the connection for them to stay and talk to somebody after.

“Or make the connection for somebody who can start to address some of the other issues that somebody might have, and then hopefully get them a set of keys — whether it’s in one of the transitional units that’s on the top floor or an apartment some place in town,” he said.

This is just the beginning for Living Space, which Marks says is more than a building.

“What is going to make Living Space fly and really end homelessness in Timmins is going to be a solid volunteer base, so we need a lot of people, and we need people who know how to put volunteers to work. Because volunteers when they put their name forward, they want to be useful, so we need to coordinate that,” he said. “And then we also need a charitable giving and foundation program there’s a lot of work that needs to happen and we’re hoping that this building in addition to serving the practical purposes that I outlined also just serves as a place that people can recognize as Timmins answer to homelessness.”

Funding for the project came from a number of areas, including $200,000 from the City of Timmins.

Marks said the ongoing operating costs will be supported by the 13 units on the top floor, "so there will be no ongoing commitment from municipal taxpayers to pay for this."

The grand opening of the space was celebrated on World Homeless Day.

A number of events were held to mark the occasion in Timmins, including a presentation from Laurentian University Professor Carol Kauppi, who revealed the preliminary results of a homeless enumeration study in the Cochrane District.