The Salvation Army Halton Lighthouse Shelter in Oakville, Ont., is currently undergoing a $1.4 million expansion that will increase their facility space to accommodate 40 shelter beds and eight new rooms.

Halton Lighthouse provides shelter and short-term accommodation to people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. The funding for this expansion comes from The Salvation Army, the Government of Canada and an anonymous donor who gave $500,000 for the expansion.

“Like other communities, Oakville is seeing an increase in need,” says James Moulton, regional executive director of housing and support services in Halton. “There is a growing gap between affordability of housing and housing supply for marginalized groups.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has widened this gap, leaving people with limited options. Marginalized groups within the community were at a greater disadvantage with fewer employment opportunities, limited access to services and displacement from shelters with capacity limits.

At Halton Lighthouse, occupancy was reduced due to physical-distancing limitations imposed during pandemic restrictions. Hotels were used as a temporary measure to bridge the gap and provide beds to more clients.

Once complete, the renovations at the facility will restore the shelter to pre-pandemic occupancy, allowing the shelter to meet the growing need in Oakville. “In the long term, this‘pandemic proofs’ our facility,” says Moulton. “It will lessen the need to use hotels and allow staff to have closer contact with clients and work more collaboratively on establishing a housing plan.”

Though the vision for the expansion project emerged in the fall of 2020, funding was secured in early 2021. The expansion is expected to be complete this year. In 2021, Halton Lighthouse accommodated 492 individuals and provided 23,000 meals. With this new expansion underway, the shelter hopes to feed and accommodate more clients in 2022.

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