“I want to make sure people know this does exist in our community,” Realtor with Century 21 in Bancroft Emma Kearns says.

“My head was always buried in the sand,” she says, adding that with being so busy with her business, she never realized how big the homelessness issue is in the area. “Either we don’t like talking about, don’t want to see it, or we’re too busy to see it,” Kearns tells the MyBancroftNow.com newsroom.

She and the team at Century 21 donated $2,700 to North Hastings Community Trust to help them start a “heat initiative.” Judy Edgar works with Community Trust and explains, after adding in other donations, they received over $5,000. “It’s by no means what we need,” she says. Edgar explains they have never gotten funding for help with heating, adding that this is a good start, but “we have to keep the momentum going.”

“Half of it is already gone,” Edgar says. She says she’s in the process of writing letters to challenge others to donate, specifically other realtor groups in the area.

“People are living very precariously,” Edgar says. “They’re living in homes that are falling down, they’re living without heat, they go out during the day to places where they can be warm so they don’t have to turn their heat or hydro on during the day so they can save it for the evening.” Edgar acted as the coordinator of the warming centre that was set-up at St Paul’s United Church and says despite the warming centre closing in late December 2019, people now better understand the issue. “Even though we had to shut the sanctuary down, it was a starting point,” she says.

Edgar explains that now people like Kearns who may not have understood how big the issue of homelessness is in the community, do have a better idea about what’s going on. “It made people understand that this is not just a big city issue,” she says.

“I would hate to live in our community knowing people are without heat,” Kearns says. “Especially in January, February and March where it’s very cold.”

“I’ve started talks with Community Trust and Hastings County, so hopefully we can get some more answers about why this is happening in our community,” Kearns explains, adding she hopes they can find the “loophole” to help people in need.

Edgar says the issue starts at the top, explaining that there’s too much “red tape” people need to cut through at the County level to get what they need.

“People have to be aware that this does exist in Bancroft,” Kearns says.