Homeless program survives
A program in Adeliade Metcalfe that keeps families, seniors and youth off the streets and gets them into health and employment supports will continue after funding was just about to run out.
MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex Monte McNaughton made the announcement that $21,834,400 is coming to London and Middlesex County under the Homelessness Prevention Program, an increase of $8,459,400 or 63 per cent compared to last year.
“The Social Services department will be working with our community partners and our homeless population to ensure the funding goes towards services and supports that will truly help,” responded Joe Winser when asked where the funding will go.
He also confirmed the accommodations program running out of Countryside Motel on Egremont Drive north of Strathroy will continue.
“As we experience the influx of complex urban issues within our County, the funding increase for the Homelessness Prevention Program, which can be directed to critical local priorities such as the Middlesex County Interim Accommodation Project, is vital,” said Middlesex County Warden Cathy Burdghardt-Jesson during the announcement.
The program at Countryside Motel is a team effort, with people and agencies teaming up to tackle the backlog of people needing help finding and keeping a home. They are as varied as paramedics giving checkups; employment agencies finding jobs; Canadian Mental Health Association workers helping in such a stressful time; addiction counsellors helping tackle demons; local churches donating food, toys and time; and Middlesex County Library community navigator Josh Smith working out of a briefcase and cramped hotel room to hear people’s needs and point them to help.
Funding was drying up for the program after the end of the Social Service Relief Fund set up during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nine hotel rooms house people from all over the county experiencing a housing crisis for a wide variety of reasons. Hundreds of people have already used the program.
The county kept the doors open by stretching funding help from the City of London’s Homeless Prevention Program.
With such a long waiting list, there is an emphasis on this hopefully being a temporary step towards housing independence. People can only stay for two months.
“Our intent is to get people housed as soon as we can, and if we can’t get them housed at least provide them some stability supports to be able to find the resources on their own,” said Winser.
“Even after the full two months of intense work, getting housing is challenging right now. Depending on someone’s financial situation, almost impossible. So sometime we have to be just happy with the fact that we’ve offered them a safe place to live for a little while,” said Smith earlier this year.
Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner