Holy Trinity, Thornhill is taking seriously its commitment to stand in solidarity with those living in poverty. In a special meeting on Oct. 20, its vestry voted to authorize the use of the church’s facilities to host a pilot emergency shelter project with Mosaic Interfaith Out of the Cold on eight Friday evenings from the end of November to January. This follows from the 2019 social justice vestry motion, through which Holy Trinity’s vestry resolved to support those living in poverty through prayer, outreach and advocacy.
The emergency shelter is a scaled-down version of full-service shelters offered deeper into the winter. The parish will provide the space and the volunteers to make the emergency shelter possible. Mosaic Interfaith will provide the mattresses, blankets, security and transportation for guests, as well as the funds.
This opportunity came to the parish because of provincial funding cuts that have negatively affected the work of Mosaic Interfaith. The organization needed more shelter nights to secure a certain level of funding. Rehana Sunar, executive director for Mosaic-York Region, described the problem for the parish at a town hall meeting in held in the spring.
Poverty and homelessness have been increasing in York Region. It’s estimated that more than 2,800 people are in shelters in the region, yet there is a limited number of permanent shelters. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the majority of shelters are in the north end of the region, while the majority of the population is in the south.
The committee at Holy Trinity responsible for overseeing the pilot will report to the annual vestry meeting in 2020 when, depending on the results, the vestry may be asked to decide whether to host the program on a more permanent basis in the future.