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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Grey County Boosting Homelessness Prevention Efforts

Grey County | by Claire McCormack  

An Outreach Worker & a Response Table Coordinator will help tackle chronic homelessness.

Grey County is increasing its efforts to prevent homelessness in the community.

It involves using money from the province to hire a Housing Outreach Worker as well as a Homelessness Response Table Coordinator and providing transitional housing with supports to those who are chronically homeless.

County Housing Director Anne Marie Shaw says, "We recently had gone out and done a review of our homelessness plan. So we were listening to what we heard from community partners and from the community as to where the needs are."
 
The Outreach Worker has been hired through the Canadian Mental Health Association to help tenants keep their housing, provide them with supports and refer them to the community services they may need.  

Shaw says the County is also creating a Homelessness Response Table to help people who are chronically homeless access housing, "If a person is in need of a home and also in need of supports, this process will provide both of those," says Shaw.

The response table will include Grey and Bruce County housing, the Canadian Mental Health Association, local hospitals, and other homelessness prevention services like those through the YMCA or supports like OSHaRE.

It will be run by a coordinator who has yet to be hired, but will be tasked with creating a list of those in the area who are homeless and chronically homeless. Their job will also be to line up 'wrap around' services covering other supports a person may need to live.

The County is also planning a pilot program where some people who are chronically homeless would have access to housing with supports in 'transitional units' Grey will provide out if its existing housing stock.

That is expected to start in April.

Meanwhile, the County and Owen Sound Housing Company are in the process of creating an affordable/attainable 59 unit apartment building at the Odawa Heights affordable development on the city's east side.  

They are also working on an affordable development in Durham, and hope to have more in the future, "We are continuing to work towards more opportunities," says Shaw.

Grey's homelessness prevention program also includes YMCA emergency housing, and funding through the Community Enhancement Program helps support services for homeless people that are run by non-profit groups, volunteers, churches and others that provide things like The Good Food Box, clothes, furniture, transportation, heating funds and other things.

The County receives money from the Province through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative to run its housing with related supports programs, the Sustainable Housing Benefit, the Y homeless prevention program, emergency housing and other community programs.

The County already has four housing locations with supports. 'Supports' are things like help with medication management, laundry and meals.

CHPI Funding from the provincial government this year is about $1.8 million.  

The County's Five Year Review shows 1,600 nights of emergency shelter was provided to 400 households in 2018.

Some goals that came out of that review were to increase supportive housing, increase affrdable housing and preserve existing stock, and reduce chronic homelessness. 

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