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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

County Offers Help To Evicted Shelter Residents

Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz  

Grey County says it has offered help to those who have set up a tent city.

Grey County officials say support programs are in place and help has been offered to those affected by the closing of Victorious Living Centre's emergency shelter in Owen Sound.

Residents of the shelter were evicted last week and have since set up Tent City, a pop-up outdoor curbside community consisting of sleeping bags, chairs and tents just out front of the 748 2nd Avenue East property.

Signage, tents, flowers and personal belongings litter the boulevard in front of the former VLC and have even spread to the opposite side of the street.

Homeless past VLC resident Ray Botten says that's not going to change anytime soon, despite an order from the city to clear the area by Thursday.

A statement issued by Grey County Friday says individuals impacted by the VLC closure were contacted and offered temporary housing or emergency shelter.

Grey County CAO Kim Wingrove says the County has assisted VLC numerous times in the past with utility costs in arrears.

However, she says VLC must enter in an agreement with Grey County to receive funding as a shelter service.

According to Wingrove, since the 1980s the County has funded a domiciliary hostel program which gives providers in the community funding to offer housing with related supports service.

Providers must enter an agreement with Grey County to receive funding and certain operational standards and guidelines handed down from the province must be met.

Some of the standards to be adhered to for an organization to receive, include: financial policies, annual inspections, amenities such as a kitchen, laundry and adequate private bathrooms, as well as a 24-hour staff member trained in nursing, first aid and health care.

The county provides organizations that meet an approved standard $51.89 per person, per day to provide food and shelter.

Wingrove says VLC has approached the Grey County for funding a number of times but the two parties have never entered the necessary agreement.

"I've made this offer again today," Wingrove says. "If they want to enter into an agreement with the County and meet the requirements of that agreement, my staff and I would be more than happy to assist in doing so."

"We do recognize here at the county that housing is an issue for many people and we're wanting to work with all of our providers to ensure they're able to provide the necessary help into the community."

Pastor Randy Kennedy, operator of the VLC, says he is interested and willing to enter a funding agreement with Grey County, and make any alterations necessary to make it workable to approved standards.

But, he says none of that really matters unless they get the shelter back.

"Until I get the mortgage issue resolved here there is really no point in it," Kennedy says. "We need to get back in the building first."

Wingrove adds homeless people or those in need of shelter can get access through Y Housing, Grey County's funded partner, which finds housing on an emergency basis 365 days a year, until 10 p.m. each night.

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