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LETTER: Rapid rehousing project only scratches surface

'Six months is a very short period to help people who have serious health or addiction difficulties,' says letter writer
Six modular units arrived in Orillia recently as construction began on the rapid rehousing project at 175 West St. S.

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is about the Supportive Rapid Re-Housing Program in Orillia.

The City of Orillia and the County of Simcoe are erecting some manufactured housing units at 175 West St. S., Orillia, under what is called the Supportive Rapid Re-Housing Program.

The units will provide accommodation for up to 10 persons at one time. The announced plan calls for people to live in these units for six months, during which time they will be provided with wide-ranging help in finding future housing, employment, and access to health services. It is hoped that many will have found more permanent housing and financial support after the six-month stay in these units. In other words, this is what was called transitional housing.

The concept and the erection of these units is a good idea. However, there are around 50 homeless people in Orillia, according to the latest data I have seen. So, the 10 units will only make a start on solving the homeless issue.

Furthermore, six months is a very short period to help people who have serious health or addiction difficulties. Therefore, the success rate may be quite low. One thing is certain: To achieve a reasonable success rate after the six-month stay, in the Supportive Rapid Re-Housing Program units there will have to be affordable housing units available in the community. These are not available now.

I submit that the private industry will not provide such units in sufficient numbers regardless of how much governments tinker with tax exemptions and regulations. The only solution, in my opinion, is for the government to construct and operate a sufficient number of public housing units to deal with the more difficult cases of homelessness.

Konrad Brenner