Dal prof helps get homeless out of the cold

A social work prof at Dalhousie is an ogrinizer of an emergency night shelter for people with no place to go. It is the shelters second year of operation in Halifax and opens on Sunday, Nov. 22.

Jeff Karabanow, a social work professor at Dalhousie is just one of many volunteers that come together to run the night shelter. Photo by Peter Clarke

This is the second year of operation for an emergency shelter for homeless people which officially opens on Sunday, Nov. 22 and stays open until April.

Out of the Cold is originally a faith-based volunteer organization out of Toronto and with operations across Canada.

"I kind of adopted it from Toronto," said Jeff Karabanow, a social work professor at Dalhousie and one of the founding organizers of Out of the Cold in Halifax.

He has changed it to suit the needs of Halifax so it is different from the other projects holding the same name.

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The shelter will be run out of the Sunday School Room at St. Matthew's United Church on Barrington Street in Halifax.

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Shelter services in the HRM Map by Andrew Kudel

"We don't have a different space every night," he said. In Halifax, Out of the Cold had a fixed home at St. Matthews United Church on Barrington Street. Karabanow said the church has been very receptive and helpful with the project.

"The first question the board asked me was what can we do to help?"

The shelter is set up in the Sunday school room of the church. Each night they set up 15 cots and they have a small kitchen where the guests can have a healthy home-cooked meal each night. They even provide kennels for pets and a gym where Karabanow said guests would be welcome to shoot a basketball.

Karabanow said Out of the Cold has around 200 volunteers in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The volunteers for Out of the Cold learned a lot last year.

"There's a huge need," said Karabanow.

"We learned that this model works."

Karabanow wishes he and his colleagues did not have to volunteer their time. He said that in places where the government addresses the homeless problem directly with housing, suffering on the streets decreases.

"At the federal level we need a committed housing policy. From the province we need more investment," he said.

Some of Karabanow's students volunteer with Out of the Cold as well. Darcy Harvey, a Dalhousie grad was involved with the project last year. She said that the project is extremely important.

"It publically and politically lends weight to the issue," said Harvey.

"The whole lack of acknowledgment of the need for this shelter is preposterous," said Harvey of the province.

Carl Dalton, a current graduate student of Karabanow's is also volunteering with Out of the Cold. He's worked in emergency shelters before.

"The first time I volunteered at an emergency shelter my whole world view shifted," he said. Like his professor, he is not enthusiastic that it falls to volunteers to step up and provide shelter.

"I am aware that by operating an emergency shelter we run the risk of alleviating the responsibility of governments," he said.


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