A massive amount of funding has come in from the Ontario government this past week in order to supply homes to over 62 homeless families. This donation comes in at $5.4 million through the provincial Ministry of Housing’s Home for Good program. This program has been stated to be for two types of people: there are people who are in need of a place to live and there are also people who require extra access to resources because the cost of living is high enough to put them at a breaking point.
Community services commissioner Adrienne Jugley reports that this funding is from the Housing for Good program, this program serves the people in the former group. Jugley states that it is incredibly difficult to get back onto your feet once you have lost a home, and thus the entry point of a sustainable life is hard to meet once you have fallen out of it.
Jugley is also well aware that just putting someone who has become homeless in a paid apartment addresses a subset of the actual root issue. She states that the housing being provided to these 62-plus homeless Niagaran residents will be ‘supportive housing’. This housing will include a direct line to essential services like medical and food related and will serve to help people transition to a more regulated lifestyle.
Jugley commented that one of the main concerns with putting someone who has becomes homeless into a normal house is that it does nothing to support the reason they became homeless in the first place. This could be anything from having children, mental health problems, disabilities, or other reasons that are not easily dealt with. While one may consider that this initiative is in part due to the Liberal government it is actually much more universal than that. In fact, this is actually a bipartisan issue that is supported by all parties. This is because there have been many studies done in Canada that report there are many more costs associated with supporting a large homeless community than assisting those who are homeless back into a functional and proper living environment.
As such this program has been supported almost universally and has already seen great success in larger towns like Toronto and Vancouver. For instance, Simone Fraser University, conducted a study that took place in Vancouver looking at the cost associated with supporting homeless people on a city. Their findings were that each homeless citizen costed the city roughly $55,000, whereas this new model of supportive housing costs only $37,000.
This isn’t the only study. In fact it is the most modest. A study by the University of Toronto puts the cost of having a homeless citizen as high as $134,000 and this supportive housing as low as $20,000 a year, highlighting the massive potential for a program like this to work, especially in larger cities. While it is yet to be seen how the program will mesh with the Niagara population, clearly it is looking fairly good just given on how preliminary studies have seen it take hold in larger towns. Regional chairman Alan Caslin stated that he believes that there has been a lack of funding for Niagara compared to what they require. He hopes that this funding can push the region in the right direction. One that reflects the growing problem in the community and reflects the government’s hope to push for greater support and less criminalization of homeless people living in Ontario.