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Ontario city reaches out to homeless vets

Photo of Canadian military from Wikipedia

Around 40,000 Canadian soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan, serving alongside Americans and other nation's troops. Some returned only to eventually become homeless, a situation that has drawn the attention of officials in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Canada lost 158 soldiers in Afghanistan, three of them from Niagara Region, the latest in a long tradition of Canadians killed in battle in many corners of the world in many wars.

Then, they returned home. Most returned to relatively regular lives. A few didn't.

The Royal Canadian Legion tells the Regional Municipality of Niagara there are 40 homeless former soldiers, mostly in Niagara Falls.

Barb Greenwood is a member of the Regional Council and co-chair of the Public Health and Social Services Committee.

"We have people that live on the street, whether they are veterans or homeless people whether they are veterans or not," said Greenwood, pointing out that Niagara Falls doesn't have a shelter for single men.

"The most important thing they want is a pair of socks to keep their feet warm in the cold."

Greenwood says the regional municipality of 437,000 residents is looking at building a shelter in Niagara Falls, possibly to open in 2015. Whether it will be an existing building or a new one hasn't been decided.

While an existing building would be quicker, Greenwood says there are issues with the building code and with accessibility for residents in a rehab.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.