On Friday, MPP David Piccini announced that the Province would provide Northumberland County with an additional $2M towards their Homelessness Prevention Program. Mayor 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
(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.
- 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”.
- What the Province has done to help – Ontario’s Progress on Housing Supply
- County info on Cobourg Internet site
Homelessness is not a new subject
- Cobourg News Blog reported on what the County was doing in February 2018. Go here – Homeless Plan for Northumberland
- See also: Transition House – an update – 28 June 2020