Niagara Falls and Niagara Region are working together to provide more support for homeless people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Niagara Region has implemented measures to ensure its region-wide shelter system remains safe.

They include active screening; creating a homeless isolation shelter; breaking up congregate sleeping arrangements; separating clients with compromised health; moving some people who can live independently into motel rooms; and providing them microwaves to assist with food preparation.

Additional outreach staff are meeting with clients to find the best way to accommodate their needs, while helping co-ordinate the provision of food from various sources.

In Niagara Falls, with the seasonal Out of the Cold homeless shelter recently closed, and with the health crisis leading to closure of public facilities and businesses that would typically help homeless people, municipal and regional staff are putting several measures in place to aid the situation, including adding accessible portable washrooms.

Ken Todd, the city’s chief administrative officer, said some of the facilities homeless people would use are closed, including the Gale Centre (which they had been using to shower), the library on Victoria Avenue and a nearby business.

“We felt we would strategically place some portable washrooms around the city at a few locations,” he said.

Washrooms have been placed by the Victoria Avenue library, near the former Park Street market, in the Bridge Street and First Avenue area, and in the Lundy’s Lane area near Main Street.

“We’ve made arrangements to have them properly serviced and sanitized on a daily basis while we go through the pandemic,” said Todd, adding the washrooms are open 24/7. “Hopefully people are respectful of them being there. If we are having problems during the nighttime, we may have to restrict hours.”

Todd said showers will be offered at the Oakes Park fieldhouse every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 until 10 a.m. Towels and toiletries will be provided, and washrooms will be cleaned and maintained daily.

He said the site will be supervised because the park is not otherwise open during the pandemic.

Todd said municipal works staff is also putting out additional waste bins in the area.

“Sharps disposal kits are being placed out there by the Region and by outreach workers, just to try to keep the environment as safe as we can,” he said.

“There was some additional outreach support that was given, so now we’ve got a few additional people out being able to handle the clients. The soup kitchen is providing the outreach workers with nutritious bagged lunches that they are actually delivering out to the clients as they find them.”

Niagara community services commissioner Adrienne Jugley said there has been “quite a bit of work” done across the region to support the homeless.

“One of the things that I think has been more of an issue than a lot of municipalities anticipated was that when you shut everything down – you shut all your municipal facilities down, and then you shut all of your restaurants down – you start to lose some access to really basic things like washrooms or running water that you really hadn’t thought about, and this population is most vulnerable,” she said.

“Everybody goes, ‘Stay home,’ or if you have symptoms of a cough or cold, ‘Go home.’ And then what do you do with the homeless when you say, ‘Self-isolate at home’ – they don’t have a home.”

She credited those who help the region’s most vulnerable, especially during a health crisis.

“While we are always telling everybody to stay home, we’re asking these people to come to work and we’re so grateful for them.”


HALCO disinfects all its washrooms after every service using INO bano Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant. A formulation that disinfects in as little as 5 seconds. Effective against H1N1, Influenza A, Staph, Norovirus, HIV, HBV, HCV and much more.