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9th annual Sleep Out! So Others Can Sleep In

By Jordan Merkley [1]

BELLEVILLE – Members of the community will be spending a night camping in the cold to raise money for homelessness.

The 9th annual Sleep Out! So Others Can Sleep In [2] is happening Jan. 29 in Belleville’s Market Square.

Organized by the Hastings and Prince Edward branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association [3], the sleep out aims to raise awareness about homelessness.

The event goes from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., but after midnight is when it really gets hard, according to Sandie Sidsworth, executive director of the local CMHA.

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The event also raises money for the upkeep of transitional homes.

“The transitional homes are not shelters; they provide longer stays. They give people the support they need to be able to move into safe and affordable housing, and maintain sustainability so they aren’t homeless again,” said Sidsworth.

There are currently 25 people in Hastings and Prince Edward living in transitional homes, but Sidsworth says there is not enough dedicated funding to keep the homes in good condition.

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“Dedicated dollars are usually towards programming, and it’s very hard to find those dollars that make a home that people are residing in feel like a home,” she said. “That’s one of the things we have to do to address dignity of housing.”

The fundraising goal for this year is $10,000. According to Sidsworth, this money goes towards repairs such as painting, fixing cabinets, getting working appliances and more.

“We couldn’t do without the support of longtime members of the community that come out and assist us,” Sidsworth said. “We have multiple families that come out every year, Albert College supports us every year, politicians consistently support us, and we could not run this event without the contributions of Loyalist students. Its that type of support time and time again that we depend on.”