Province to Provide Additional Funding for Housing

On Friday, MPP David Piccini announced that the Province would provide Northumberland County with an additional $2M towards their Homelessness Prevention ProgramMayor Lucas Cleveland and all Cobourg Councillors were at the announcement as were representatives from County staff and other County Townships.  Police Chief VandeGraaf was also in attendance.  David Piccini and Warden Mandy Martin were the only speakers. David said that the increased funding would help end the housing supply crisis and help end homelessness and that the Province remains a committed Partner. Mandy expressed her gratitude to the Province – she said that the investment comes at a critical time and she looks forward to continuing cooperation from all levels of Government.  Mandy spoke about the County’s view of homelessness and provided broad details of what is being done and will be done to help.

Highlights of Remarks by Warden Mandy Martin

Warden Mandy Martin and MPP David Piccini
Warden Mandy Martin and MPP David Piccini

(Only minor omissions from original)

  • Northumberland County believes every resident deserves access to safe, reliable, and affordable housing.
  • Access to housing is a key pillar of Housing First policies for addressing homelessness. It is also foundational for thriving, inclusive communities.
  • Funding through the Homelessness Prevention Program enables the County to deliver impactful programming that helps people at risk of homelessness to remain housed, and those experiencing homelessness to obtain housing and supports.
  • The investment announced today represents a nearly 48% increase in the County’s annual allocation. This increase will make a difference for our community. It will help us address the immediate needs of vulnerable people. And it will improve outcomes for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
  • This investment comes at a critical time for our community.
  • Northumberland, like municipalities across the province, is facing dual crises of housing affordability and homelessness.
  • Housing affordability has long been viewed as an urban issue. This is no longer the case. Home ownership is increasingly out of reach for rural Ontarians.
  • The average cost of homes in Northumberland is significantly above the average household’s level of affordability, making home ownership an unobtainable goal for many households in our community.
  • An extremely low rental vacancy rate and high rental costs are intensifying this problem.
  • Furthermore, like communities across the province, Northumberland is facing increasingly complex health care issues that are leading to homelessness and extending chronic homelessness.
  • In striving to address local need, Northumberland County is directing increased property tax-supported investments towards housing and homelessness supports for our community.
  • For 2023, this includes investments of 10 million dollars in affordable housing initiatives. Northumberland County is also doubling investments in the homelessness system to $560- thousand dollars.
  • With this funding, we will work with our partners to enhance critical emergency shelter, outreach, and housing assistance resources.
  • Resources like an additional Mental Health Worker through Northumberland Hills Hospital so that we have two full-time resources dedicated to street outreach and intensive mental health case management for people experiencing homelessness.
  • Resources like expanded shelter benefits to help people at risk pay first and last month’s rent, utilities arrears, or rent deposits to stabilize their housing situation.
  • And resources like additional overflow motel shelter spaces, family diversion spaces, and housing case management services through Transition House Shelter.
  • From prevention programs to expanded shelter services, this investment from the province will help to further ensure that some of the most vulnerable members of our community have access to essential life-stabilization supports.
  • In the face of these challenges, County Council, staff, and community partners are more committed than ever to delivering affordable housing solutions, and a coordinated system of supports for individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
  • I know the province, and our MPP, share this commitment.
  • With this enhanced Homelessness Prevention Program funding announced today, we are in a better position to address these challenges head on.
  • We look forward to continued collaboration between all levels of government on strategies to further tackle the pressing and evolving issues of housing and homelessness our communities are facing.

Additional information

  • Mandy added that the County has a “Housing First Policy” [Ed. Note: this reflects the belief that people with mental health problems, unemployment, addictions etc. are best helped if first they are housed.]  Mandy emphasized that the intent is purpose-built housing – there are several different requirements, not everyone needs the same thing.
  • In response to a question about Brookside, MPP Piccini said that the Town and the County have shown an interest and are working together and exploring options with this property.
  • In response to a question re Tiny Homes, MPP Piccini said that they would need to meet housing standards and that the Province has helped by mandating second and third housing units on properties “as a right”.

Resources

Other Information

Homelessness is not a new subject

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Sandpiper
9 months ago

None of this will be sustainable and will end up on the backs of the Tax Paying Residents in Northumberland if the Province and Feds. do not increase the Senior support and Benefits, like ODSP OAS CPP Etc to match the cost of rising inflation just to stay apace
with daily costs even if they get a affordable residence we are all still faced with uncontrolled increases in Utilities , Heat ,Food etc There have been no real increases for many years now .
May be the Feds and Piccini can bring these benefits up to the the inflationary increases that the CRA staff provide and got in their last Strike action That way we can all work from home .

Eastender
9 months ago

Were there any homeless people at this announcement? If not, why weren’t they invited? Aren’t they the object of the enterprise? I smell a public relations rat.

Last edited 9 months ago by Eastender
Leweez
Reply to  Eastender
9 months ago

Maybe their invitation got lost in the mail?🤷‍♂️

Eastender
Reply to  Leweez
9 months ago

Your reply is disgusting .

Dubious
Reply to  Eastender
9 months ago

Why disgusting?

Eastender
Reply to  Dubious
9 months ago

Do you really need to ask?

Dubious
Reply to  Eastender
9 months ago

Why did you make an inexplicable comment?

Jade
Reply to  Eastender
9 months ago

It’s always about a photo op. Never anything else with him

Dubious
Reply to  Jade
9 months ago

It’s always about a photo op. Never anything else with him any politician!

Dave
9 months ago

If we are going to have Tiny Homes, which seems to be the build selected for such homeless projects there should be a time limit set on residency. Placed through a social worker to a person either enrolled or more willing to enter substance abstinence programs to re-enter society, find a job and become independent. Same for the mentally ill to seek treatment, medication and employment. Those unable to meet this criteria should be housed in more suitable environment such as a live in institution for the mentally ill or jail or a halfway house with regular drug testing ensuring abstinence. Help offered yes but I see no reason for the public to be plagued with this problem further as they have been. Enough is enough! It is not a person’s right to be drug addled, be committing crimes to support their habit or living rough.

Last edited 9 months ago by Dave
JimT
9 months ago

If, as stated: “Northumberland County believes every resident deserves access to safe, reliable, and affordable housing…” then why is Northumberland County planning to demolish the existing (it is not “old” as some claim) Golden Plough Lodge complex?

It is ideal for conversion to small, self-contained apartment units at minimal cost to the taxpayers. The only issue is that dining facilities would have to be communal, in small dining areas throughout the buildings, as is done now.

How much (or how little) of that $2 mil. would it take to adapt the existing modern, useable housing space at GPL for accommodation for the currently “unhoused” of the county?

comment image
Picture copied from: https://todaysnorthumberland.ca/2021/12/31/further-covid-cases-extend-golden-plough-lodge-outbreak/

Last edited 9 months ago by JimT
Ken Strauss
Reply to  JimT
9 months ago

“Northumberland County believes every resident deserves access to safe, reliable, and affordable housing.”

Is there an estimate of the number of “affordable” units required? What is the expected cost of any necessary subsidies? What will the subsidies cost each resident currently suitably housed in Northumberland? How will an increase in “affordable” (lower cost) housing affect our market value based property taxes? Can currently housed residents afford the additional taxes required to provide subsidized housing for everyone? How will Northumberland prevent an influx of the currently unhoused from other places in Canada?

Without answers to these and many other questions it is irresponsible for the county to even mention what our residents “deserve”.

Ben
Reply to  Ken Strauss
9 months ago

Well Ken there are over 1000 people on the wait list for housing.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ben
9 months ago

The original comment was “every resident” so I suspect that there are far more than those on a wait list. However, let’s assume that we only need 1,000 additional affordable units for the whole county.

The Balder project cost Cobourg taxpayers almost $1M to incent building 4 (or was it only 3?) affordable units. That is, the Balder project cost us $250K/unit. Thus the 1000 needed units would cost the taxpayers $250,000,000 in subsidies. The last census counts 27,565 families in Northumberland. So about $9,000 from each family to build affordable homes for only those on the wait list.

Ben, do you think that every Northumberland family is ready to contribute another $9,000 in addition to their usual taxes?

Kathleen
Reply to  Ken Strauss
9 months ago

We can’t possibly afford that! (Mainly because practically all tax dollars go to our Town Police Budget).

Sonya
Reply to  JimT
9 months ago

The two floors you see in this picture would be perfect for this. Tear down the rest of the building. Each floor in this section has a dining room and a small kitchen. This part of the building is solid and built in 1972. There’s also a nice common room on each floor that could be used for meetings for rehabilitation. group counselling ect. I think it’s a wonderful idea.

JimT
Reply to  Sonya
9 months ago

The same can be said for the rest of the complex. It’s all in great shape and good for years of use. It’s like four apartment buildings linked together, with two atrium garden areas in the middle.

Sonya
Reply to  JimT
9 months ago

Actually the section built in 1987 does need to be demolished.

Gerinator
9 months ago

Somehow this MPP believes that homelessness can be cured/permanently fixed. Ridiculous. This is a problem that will be with us for a very, very long time. For one thing they are wrapping this funding in with mental illness, for another how do you separate either from drug addition. If one perceive these issues as societal infrastructure issues and then contemplate how well we’ve done taking care of all infrastructure issues, you can see where I’m going. I’m sorry, the funding is a tease, a vote-for-me contribution; I have no illusions that this funding will continue and or increase as it will most certainly have to do.

Scottie
9 months ago

An additional $2 million might seem like a princely sum — but it’s really not that much – when you consider the magnitude of the problems we’re dealing with here in Northumberland. It would be my suggestion that the criteria for anyone accessing these funds, is that they must be “addiction free” – then you will be targeting the unhoused people who are truly deserving of this help, and won’t just put it in their arms or up their noses. Further to this, I would suggest that the Friday night “drug-enabling” pop-up tents be used for drug TESTING rather than drug-enabling. It might take some retraining for those who are running these pop-up tents to “test” for drugs, rather than helping someone to shoot-up, but the end result could be life-saving and life-changing.

Kathleen
Reply to  Scottie
9 months ago

Excellent suggestion. You’re right, $2M is not that much at all – especially nowadays. Vetting is an absolute must to get to those who will really benefit long-term.

marya
9 months ago

So now the phrase “Tiny Homes” is again being used? The original topic of “tiny homes” and its survey, to which we favourably responded given that it was very differently portrayed and as a means to downsize, sadly morphed into sub-standard housing known as “Sleeping Cabins.”

Keith Oliver
Reply to  marya
9 months ago

Marya

Tiny Homes and Sleeping Cabins are two very different forms of housing. SC are temporary, without bathroom and kitchen, siting is highly controversial as demonstrated by a recent SC proposal at the arenà off Ontario Street (Furnace Street?).

TH are just what the type name states, very small houses, less than 500 sf and could be built under certain conditions on the same lot occupied by an existing conventional house according to a new Cobourg Planning initiative.

Last edited 9 months ago by Keith Oliver
marya
Reply to  Keith Oliver
9 months ago

Of course they are two distinct options, but all of the talking and the writing has only been about Sleeping Cabins.

ben
9 months ago

A very good start but as mentioned below where is the coordinated plan: https://burdreport.ca/blog/2023/05/21/this-is-a-very-good-start/

Malcom
9 months ago

A dedicated MH and Social Worker team would be invaluable to seek out homeless people where they are “living” in the county.
The stigma attached to homelessness makes the problem difficult to quantify and therefore properly address.
The money is great and much appreciated but without a roadmap, mere good intentions benefits no one.

JimT
Reply to  Malcom
9 months ago

What is an “MH”? Is it anything like an “SW”?
My decoding skills are not what they used to be.

Last edited 9 months ago by JimT
Merle Gingrich
9 months ago

These problems will never be rectified, all most of us can do, is try. Thanks David Puccini for your support.

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Merle Gingrich
9 months ago

I’m not familiar with the requirements to qualify for government support for the homeless /unemployed etc but I’m sure there are.
Does one have to show any proof on a regular basis (i.e) proof that they have actively sought employment or have medical verification record etc that meet the requirements to draw benefit?
There appears to be no shortage (and increasing) of many young individuals ordinarily dressed ,appearing to be fit in appearance during the day.
I wonder where /why their parents / family etc and why are they not involved.?
Providing support for these people by giving them housing /money etc is just negating any incentive for them to become ordinary hard working members of society.
Of course there are genuine causes for some of their hardship but voluntarily joining the numbers of those who choose this lifestyle with no intention of providing an honest lifestyle for themselves is very concerning for the future of ordinary peace loving life styles.
I feel the popular concept by some people that it is ALL caused by “mental illness” is doubtful and just enables a free ticket without any obligation on those who choose the lifestyle.

marya
Reply to  Bill Thompson
9 months ago

Very well stated, Bill. Such irony! Food and benefits are widely handed out, yet we are “not allowed to feed the animals” because they will grow dependant and will not know how to take care of themselves.

Last edited 9 months ago by marya
Newbie
Reply to  marya
9 months ago

The animals and others will have the “advocates” to ensure they lose any autonomy, through their encouraged “victimhood” and “empowerment”, leading only to further dependency on the government. So contrary.

Last edited 9 months ago by Newbie
Concerned Cobourg Resident
9 months ago

Dear Cobourg Politicians,

Giving money to homelessness won’t end homelessness.

It will however, create a moral hazard for the homeless, whereby they are empowered to stay homeless because there is no incentive for them not be be homeless since millions of dollars are given to coddle them year after year.

This is akin to giving a car-less person a free car, or the cell-less person a free cell phone.

We must draw the line. Social programs do more harm than good.

Money solves nothing. The only remedy is personal responsibility for your life and situation.

CCR

JimT
Reply to  Concerned Cobourg Resident
9 months ago

Every individual for themself and the devil take the hindmost.

Lemon Cake
9 months ago

I think at this point we need to address what homelessness looks like in 2023 – what segments of our population are we looking to house? Because – as many of the commenters point out – if 70% of these folks are opioid addicted, I would not want my family anywhere near this housing. Opioid use is sad and awful – but it also makes people behave in unpredictable and often aggressive way. I think we need more details here – this is beyond NIMBYism. It’s a safety concern.

Cobourg taxpayer
9 months ago

What bothers me about these millions of tax dollars handed out for homelessness, or drug addiction or mental health initiatives is there are no parameters to measure success. As mentioned below the current projects such as rebuild of tax payer subsidized housing at Elgin/Darcy or Golden Plough rebuild to the tune of 187 beds for initial cost of $80 million, last report at $127 million and climbing I still feel that my tax dollars are wasted.

cornbread
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
9 months ago

Wait until you hear what the $ initial cost to fix the Cobourg Pier….It will be on the low side by 50% of the final cost if they go ahead with it…Wasted Money…We have done quite well with out it for the past number of years.

JimT
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
9 months ago

Please don’t try to paint GPL as a refuge for the homeless, drug addicted, or mentally ill. It is nothing of the sort. It is retirement home, complete with weekly and mid-week church services, programs and entertainment in the auditorium, meditation sessions and supervised (by physiotherapists) physical activities available for all. Bingo in the auditorium every Thurs. and Sat.

Residents of Golden Plough Lodge pay full market price for their accommodation, meals and support services except that those who cannot are subsidized as needed.

Newbie
9 months ago

I am pleased to hear action is being taken.

Concerned about the “Housing First Policy”, in relation to addictions. How can an addict pay for affordable housing, if they cannot work, due to their addiction, and or all of “their” government money (our tax dollars) is going towards their addiction?

Rehabilitation and sobriety should come first, with wrap around services and a supportive discharge plan—to get the supports one needs, like affordable housing and gainful employment; to be a healthy, contributing member of society.

A great percentage of homelessness is related to drug use. More funds should be put toward rehabilitation programs. In this regard, the program appears to be backward to me.

Last edited 9 months ago by Newbie
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Newbie
9 months ago

Towards mandatory rehabilitation rather than voluntary rehabilitation or harm reduction programs!

Last edited 9 months ago by Ken Strauss
Newbie
Reply to  Ken Strauss
9 months ago

Harm Reduction?? Not possible. Absolutely prolonging an agonizing and inevitable death. Deplorable.

Last edited 9 months ago by Newbie
Rob
Reply to  Ken Strauss
9 months ago

A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still…mandatory rehabilitation is not the same as mandatory recovery and sadly has little to no chance of success.

cornbread
Reply to  Newbie
9 months ago

Perhaps there is a use for all the Indigenous Schools that are not currently being used. Turn them into Institutions of Recovery for those that are addicted.

Dunkirk
9 months ago

As per the Ford Gov’t’s last budget–there’s $202mm being spread around the province this month for homelessness ‘supports and resources’—
We are not special in Northumberland and have priority representation at Queens Park: last week, .Peterborough received $2.5mm from their Fordnation MPP; Hastings/Lennox-Addington rec’d $8.6mm from their Tory MPPs….etc.

The question that needs to be asked before we reach out for the cheque is, “what is the shortfall that local gov’ts are going to face from reduced development charges as a result of the same budget and Bill 23″(?)

It’s probably an appropriate time to also ask how many millions that the affordable housing project at Elgin and D’Arcy is over-budget,
and,
How many millions is the new Golden Plough Lodge project is under-water?
Does anybody know?