Our Place temporarily closes drop-in service due to safety concerns
Our Place Society in Victoria, which offers supports to homeless and vulnerable people, suspended its drop-in service on Thursday due to safety concerns.
Our Place director of services, Jordan Cooper, says the drop-in service was closed for the day due to "hostile behaviour" at the community centre on Wednesday.
"After some conversations yesterday, some tough conversations, we decided it would be prudent to shut down our drop-in space for the day, today," he told CTV News on Thursday.
"We've been facing a bit of an uptick in hostile behaviour, some violence towards staff, so we really thought we needed to take a minute to just see how we were doing things operationally at the drop-in," he said.
Cooper added that the centre was looking at ways "to make sure that it's a safe and healthy place for people coming to access services."
He says there's no one reason why things feel increasingly unsafe at the community centre, though the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of supports elsewhere are likely contributing factors.
"We've done a good job recently of getting people housed, but there's still lots of people here who still aren't housed who have very complex needs and they're left to kind of fend for themselves," he said.
"There's a lot more desperation out there right now, I believe," he added.
One of the ways Our Place is looking at improve drop-in safety is by updating its walk-in policy, Cooper says.
Previously, Our Place had a "wide open" door for anyone who wanted to use its courtyard or indoor drop-in services. Now, the centre may scale back that policy and have "more of a secure entry," said Cooper.
Other services at Our Place remain open Thursday, such as washroom and shower facilities, and meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner that can be picked up at the building's gate.
The drop-in service is expected to reopen on Friday morning.