The municipality now has a temporary shelter location to help the homeless self-isolate during COVID-19.

The employment and social services department opened the doors to the facility Wednesday morning at the municipally owned John D. Bradley Convention Centre at 565 Richmond St. in Chatham.

Over the past month, the need for a shelter has increased significantly due to individuals who were previously “couch surfing” being forced into homelessness during the pandemic.

“Our department has already assisted 50 individuals with emergency accommodations this month so far,” said Polly Smith, director of employment and social services, in a release. “In March alone, the number of requests for emergency housing increased by nearly 45 per cent.