WINDSOR, ONT. -- Demand for safe, transitional housing while opioid overdoses continue to rise in Windsor has prompted a non-profit care agency to expedite the launch of several new recovery facilities.

This, at the same time the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit issued a community-wide warning follow eight recent opioid-related overdoses.

“It’s tough out there,” says Hand in Hand Support executive president of the board Elizabeth Geddes.

She says two new sobriety or transitional homes have opened ahead of schedule in Windsor, with two more centres nearing completion.

“There’s a lot going on, especially with the pandemic, with COVID-19, a lot of mental illness. There’s a lot of people out there that are really suffering,” Geddes says.

She says each home is a safe place for clients to work on their recovery, with a structured daily schedule, meals, programming, counselling and support. 

“It’s a great thing to see people change and we’re witnessing that every day,” says outreach coordinator Matthew Prell.

There are assigned bedrooms and shared common spaces for a healthy living environment with fellowship and pastoral care, as well as encouraged access to outside clinical services that are offered in the Windsor/Essex region.

“Our loved ones are dying! They’re overdosing and they’re dying,” Geddes says.

She tells CTV News that two new sobriety (or transitional living) homes for men opened on Baby Street and Hannah Street earlier this month ahead of schedule each with 12 beds and are already full with a waitlist

Geddes notes a new 10-bed women’s shelter at an undisclosed location is ready to open Saturday and already has a waiting list.

“We see a need for it in our community,” she says. “We only have a few facilities here for women. Wait times for a government bed can be anywhere from three to six to 9 months and we just felt we don’t have that kind of time. We have an opioid crisis.”

Unifor Local 240 recently donated nine new beds, dressers, headboards and a new TV to the women’s home. Geddes says the union’s women’s group also donated bedding, welcome kids and journals.

Renovations for a new 40 bed home for men are also underway at 3020 Sandwich Street, with a goal of opening in June.

“Having a loved one myself who suffers with Substance Abuse Disorder, I have seen first-hand the challenges of getting into a recovery program.” Geddes continues, “While there are amazing services in our city, there are still gaps. Our goal is to fill that gap with the support needed as many are not able to wait to get into a structured treatment facility. We are losing lives to overdoses during this wait time. Support is needed now.”