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Homelessness funding freeze trickles down to county coffers

Orillia will have to ante up an unexpected $85,000 to help bridge the funding gap as a result of province's decision to freeze funding
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Despite promises from the previous provincial government to increase funding levels for homelessness prevention, the current provincial government has opted to freeze Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) funding at last year’s levels, leaving the County of Simcoe scrambling to make up the difference.

Earlier this week, at the County of Simcoe committee of the whole meeting, county councillors voted to share the burden of the $551,000 required to bridge the gap with the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia.

The county, using money from its social services reserve, will ante up $380,436; the cities of Orillia and Barrie will each provide about $85,000.

“Our communities planned with us in good faith over the past couple of years and we want to try to be able to honour those commitments,” said Jan Janssen, director of children and community services with the County of Simcoe.

In 2017, the previous provincial government committed to providing the County of Simcoe with $8,097,053 for homelessness initiatives in 2019/2020.

In April, the county received word from the current provincial government that the funding would instead be frozen at 2018/2019 levels, which was $7,546,112.

The announcement the county would be receiving less than anticipated also forced them to put some projects on hold.

During this week's meeting, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman had concerns that only $4.4 million of the funding had been allocated to homelessness locally.

“Why is this report today only allocating $4.5 million of the $7.5 million? The concerns I have with that are, Number 1, asking for additional funding without knowing what the allocations would be. It seems a little premature,” said Lehman.

“Could staff provide some (information) on why they felt they need to hold back $3 million at this time for a strategic review? Why isn’t it going into the communities today?”

Janssen responded that all agencies that are receiving funding were sent a questionnaire regarding how they work with other agencies. Janssen told council they were still waiting to correspond with a few more agencies before doling out the final amounts.

“We wanted to see how those community partnerships are really functioning. We didn’t think it was fair process to only have met with a portion of these service providers,” she said.

Lehman lamented that the funding freezes and cuts from the provincial government are coming fast and furious from all sides.

“This house has dealt with this many times, where we make an initial investment but if that investment doesn’t continue then it very quickly becomes a huge challenge for the organization because they lose the ability to continue with it,” he said.

How much will local organizations be receiving under CHPI for 2019/2020?

  • Canadian Mental Health Association - $72,160
  • Community Connection South Georgian Bay - $80,000
  • Couchiching Jubilee House - $81,840
  • Elizabeth Fry Society - $210,453
  • Home Horizon Georgian Triangle - $87,800
  • John Howard Society of Simcoe County - $52,020
  • Krasman Centre - $15,000
  • LOFT Community Services - $85,000
  • North Simcoe Emergency Shelter Now - $105,000
  • Orillia Lighthouse - $290,394
  • Redwood Park Communities - $82,850
  • Rosewood Shelter - $43,528
  • Simcoe Community Services (Empower Simcoe) - $1,075,020
  • South Simcoe Community Info Centre (CONTACT) - $94,700
  • The Biminaawzogin Regi Aboriginal Women’s Circle - $83,327
  • The David Busby Street Centre - $465,620
  • The Guesthouse Shelter - $195,890
  • The Salvation Army Barrie - $621,430
  • The Salvation Army Midland - $40,000
  • The Salvation Army Orillia - $15,300
  • The Samaritan House - $83,327
  • Youth Haven - $605,404

TOTAL - $4,486,063

Source: County of Simcoe staff report Schedule 1 to CCW 2019-243


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 15 years of experience to her role as reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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