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.

The frigid temperatures can make even a quick dash from the car to the grocery store feel like your skin has been hit by a swarm of bees. Once you’re home, however, you can kick off the boots and coat and relax in the safety of your home as you leave the cold behind.

That’s not the case for thousands of homeless people in Canada who live on our streets and alleyways and fill up our shelters. On any given day there are an estimated 30,000 homeless people in Canada and in any given year, more than 235,000 Canadians will experience homelessness, according to a 2016 report by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH).

The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that 25 to 50 per cent of the homeless population suffer from a mental illness, although, those who work at shelters and see the faces of homeless people every day will tell you the numbers are closer to 70 or 80 per cent.

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.

In Timmins alone, the number of homeless people is growing and is much higher than what has been previously predicted.

Jason Sereda is the coordinator at Living Space, a Timmins organization that looks to alleviate and prevent homelessness.

“The 800 point, it was determined in the last two point-in-time counts that were conducted both in 2011 and this past summer, 2018. But, we know from experience that those point-in-time counts do miss people. So, if talking to service providers, we’re confident in estimating the number is well above a thousand.” said Sereda.

A participant in, and an advocate for, the basic income pilot project in Thunder Bay, Ont., says he’s facing a lot of uncertainty now that the program is in its waning weeks.

The pilot, launched by the previous provincial Liberal government, was cancelled after the Progressive Conservatives came into office in the June 2018 election. Despite the six-month wind-down, anti-poverty activists have said canceling the program ahead of schedule puts many in very difficult situations.