The County of Wellington is getting nearly $1.5 million in new funding over five years to help combat homelessness in Guelph and the surrounding area. Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield made the announcement on Friday morning with several staff members from the Country’s social services department.
Longfield announced that the Country will be receiving $1,050,709 under the Designated Community stream of the Federal government’s Reaching Home homelessness strategy, plus another $435,200 from the Community Capacity and Innovation funding.
Reaching Home is part of the National Housing Strategy announced last year by the Federal government. The Designated Community stream is meant to provide long-term sustainable funding to municipalities facing a serious homelessness problems, while the Community Capacity and Innovation funding aims to reduce and prevent homelessness.
The new funding went into effect on April 1.
Jane Londerville of the Wellington Guelph Housing Committee called this funding a “big increase” after 10 years of no additional funding in the midst of a worsening homelessness situation. “We’re going to continue funding the things we have be funding, and that includes an after-care worker, Michael House,and East Wellington. They’re helping people who’ve obtained housing to stay in housing, and get the supports they need to stay in housing, which is preventing homelessness.”
Londerville also said that this funding will support the Housing First worker at Wyndham House, which helps homeless youth find housing, and, who Londerville points out, sometimes have issues beyond being homeless that they need assistance with.
“For this transition year, we’ve decided that we’re going to support two diversion and rapid re-housing staff, one will be located at Wyndham House, and one will be located at the Drop-In with the additional funding we have this year,” added Lori Richer, the County’s Housing Stability Manager.
Richer said that the new funding will support four existing programs, and add the two new ones. “We will be able to give people the support they need to stay housed, and if they do lose their housing, to help them get back into a housing situation as quickly as possible,” she said. “This is a new pilot we’re doing, and we really think it’s going to make an impact in our community.”
Unfortunately, the new funding will not create a new housing.
“There are other Federal programs, and it is a huge challenge for frontline workers who are trying to find a suitable place to house somebody because the vacancy rate is so low and the rates are so high. It’s a struggle,” said Londerville.