Sitting at a table at Hope House, a 34-year-old man who goes by the street name “Spinney” wraps both hands around a mug of hot coffee. After moving from stairwell to vestibule throughout the night, getting a few winks of sleep in each location before being removed by bylaw, he’s happy to be out of the cold.

Spinney and many other people who are homeless choose to stay out on the street, avoiding the local shelter system.

“It’s nice to have the option with the shelters,” he said, but added the system doesn’t work well for everyone. The rules in place at the shelter and the confrontations that can come about when people are in close quarters makes it a challenging situation for many, especially those struggling with mental health and addiction issues, he said.

A teen, recently part of Collingwood’s homeless population, has died by suicide.

The flag at the Collingwood Public Library will be flying at half mast this week.

The gesture is in honour of local teen Alex*, who was featured in a series of stories on youth homelessness that ran in CollingwoodToday at the end of November.

He died by suicide on Feb. 7.

No matter how cold it is outside, the downtown Trail shelter is usually full.

Since the wintertime-only service first opened nine years ago in an East Trail church, nightly usage has continued to rise and its management evolved from an ad-hoc committee to professional social workers.

“The numbers have absolutely increased,” says coordinator Sheila Adcock from Career Development Services (CDS).

“We have had six per night pretty consistently throughout this cold stretch,” she added.

With seven weeks remaining until Fredericton’s makeshift out-of-the-cold shelter shuts its doors, the City is asking the province for a plan by April 1.

The temporary overnight shelter, located at 791 Brunswick Street is set to close on March 31.

The shelter was patched together quickly last fall when the community rallied together to ease the number of people sleeping on the streets this winter.

Monday night, council approved to send a letter to the minister of social development, Dorothy Shephard, asking for a plan from the province.

“We’re really just asking the province to take on its responsibility of taking care of the homeless,” said Coun. Kate Rogers.

Finland’s basic income scheme did not spur its unemployed recipients to work more to supplement their earnings as hoped but it did help their wellbeing, researchers said on Friday as the government announced initial findings.

The two-year trial, which ended a month ago, saw 2,000 Finns, chosen randomly from among the unemployed, become the first Europeans to be paid a regular monthly income by the state that was not reduced if they found work.

The trial was being watched closely by other governments who see a basic income as a way of encouraging the unemployed to take up often low-paid or temporary work without fear of losing their benefits. That could help reduce dependence on the state and cut welfare costs, especially as greater automation sees humans replaced in the workforce.

Giving jobless people in Finland a basic income for two years did not lead them to find work, researchers said.

The aim was to see if a guaranteed safety net would help people find jobs, and support them if they had to take insecure gig economy work.

While employment levels did not improve, participants said they felt happier and less stressed.

This week’s frigid temperatures haven’t caused a run on beds at Penticton’s two emergency shelters – the bunks were spoken for months ago.

“The cold snap is driving a few more in, but, no, it’s been full all winter,” said Roger Evans, who manages the shelters on behalf of the Salvation Army.

The 20-bed Compass House facility on Nanaimo Avenue is open all year, while a new 27-bed winter shelter at the old Super 8 Motel on Main Street is open November through March.

“We’re taking the overflow at Compass House and we haven’t had to turn anyone away – and we won’t turn anyone away,” said Evans. “If we have to let them come in and sit on a couch, we will.”