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Homelessness is a crisis in Simcoe County

Simcoe County shelters were at 130% capacity this winter, officials said
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Simcoe County is dealing with a crisis in homelessness.

That is the view of the Manager of Social Policy and Planning, Doriano Calvano.

The county has just completed a Homelessness Enumeration Project and is now crunching the numbers. The sample was of 300 people.

Calvano says, "We are sifting through the data but there are some things that are concrete. We had a very difficult winter with Simcoe County shelters at 130 per cent capacity. That is due in part to the weather, the opioid crisis, and the fact there is more homelessness overall. Thirty-three per cent of those surveyed two years ago were in the youth shelter system. I fear that trend will continue. Youth homelessness is an important place to focus."

In the last enumeration it was determined that 16 per cent of those interviewed had been in the foster care system at some point in their lives.

Calvano says he was surprised by that. "It shows there could be ongoing trauma that contributes to the root cause of homelessness which we need to take into account."

Another trend he expects might continue is the number of Indigenous people who are homeless.

"Twenty-two per cent were Indigenous which is very telling and suggests we need to partner with groups to deal with housing for that population specifically."

Already the county is involved with establishing 17 new beds for older adults at the former Barr's Motel on Essa Road and also 20 new beds in Orillia. 

Numbers fom the most current headcount should be known by the end of June to be passed on to county council and the province.

Calvano says, "The data is the evidence to show the province what we saw and what we measured. I think the issue will only be solved through mass partnerships but we can solve it."


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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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