Rural Homeless Enumeration 2018

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In April of 2018, Bruce County and Grey County each conducted a homelessness enumeration using a Period Prevalence Count (PPC) methodology in their respective counties.

The problem of homelessness is most often associated with urban communities, however, a growing body of research over the past 15 years has shown that the problem is also prevalent in rural Canada. The size and the dynamics of the problem in these rural areas is still largely unknown, in part because of unique problems that
rural areas pose for data collection. Rural areas often have fewer services geared towards people experiencing homelessness and the services that are available often serve a large geographical region.

A recent study conducted in rural and northern Ontario found that only 32 percent of service providers in these regions are able to keep ongoing records of their at-risk and homeless populations. This problem is compounded by the fact that rural areas tend to have smaller populations spread out over relatively large geographic regions, making it more difficult to locate those who sleep rough or stay in unsafe dwellings.

The homelessness enumeration was the first of its kind to be conducted in Bruce County and Grey County – the result of a mandate set by the provincial government in 2016 with the passage of the Promoting Affordable Housing Act and the commitment to end chronic homelessness by 2025.

Beginning in 2018, all Ontario municipalities are required to conduct a homeless enumeration every two years with the goals of:

  • Improving community awareness and understanding of homelessness;
  • Helping to monitor and assess developing trends over time;
  • Providing a method through which to measure progress; and
  • Strengthening efforts to end homelessness.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force Housing Action Group identified organizations across the two counties that work with people experiencing homelessness as hub sites where enumerators would be located to conduct surveys. Front line social service workers were provided enumeration training on the survey tool, empathy training and information on services/programs available for people experiencing homelessness.

Results

Bruce County: over the course of the enumeration week, a total of 17 individuals experiencing homelessness were counted in Bruce County. Eleven of them completed questionnaires.  Read more in the full report: 2018 Homeless Enumeration – Bruce County.

Grey County: over the course of the week 33 individuals identified as experiencing homelessness and 29 completed the survey.  Read more in the full report to council.

Next Steps

The results are large enough to demonstrate homelessness exists in Grey County and Bruce County. Although the results presented are not generalizable to both counties’ population, they are sufficient to demonstrate that homelessness is a socioeconomic problem in Bruce County and Grey County.  The results suggests avenues for further study, particularly in regards to youth and seniors’ homelessness.

These results will be used in the consultation sessions for the update to Bruce County’s Long-Term Housing Strategy and Grey County’s 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Plan.

 

Defining Adequate Housing

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Housing is a basic need and is internationally recognized as a human right. Housing forms the foundation for our homes, neighbourhoods and communities.

Housing provides shelter, security, a space in which family life can happen and where children grow up and thrive. Yet, for many people, their housing jeopardizes their health and well-being.

The unfit conditions in housing, disproportionately experienced by people living in low income or other marginalizing circumstances negatively affect people’s physical and mental health. Multiple chronic diseases and acute effects, including asthma, respiratory conditions, allergies, chemical sensitivities, as well as cardiovascular disease and its numerous risk factors can be exacerbated or, in some cases caused, by poverty, stress, and living in unhealthy conditions.

Our Community Voices  are featured in a recent series of Rentsafe videos:

Defining Adequate 

My Voice is Power

Stigma in the System

Towards Healthy Homes for All: RentSafe Summary and Recommendations April 2018, summarizes the research over the past 3 years and offers recommendations for action to improve intersectoral action and capacity to ensure healthy housing conditions

 

Housing is a Human Right

Canada has adopted a Rights-Based approach to its first-ever National Housing Strategy on November 22nd, 2017.  They have announced their new strategy with a $41 billion budget over the next 10 years.

In addition to existing programs,  what is new?

$15.9 billion for a National Housing Co-investment Fund 

  • $4.7 billion in financial contributions and
  • $11.2 billion in low interest loans to developers that meet certain criteria including ensuring that:
    • 30 per cent of units in a development will rent for less than 80 per cent of median market rents for at least 20 years.
    • At least a 25 per cent reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions over national building and energy codes.
    • 20 per cent of units meet accessibility standards.

$200 million Transfer of Federal Lands to housing providers on condition that they meet environmental, socioeconomic and affordability standards.

A separate Indigenous People Housing Strategy will be developed with their input.

What is the need locally? 

  • 60% of people on low-income are working
  • 20% of employees in Grey County have multiple jobs
  •  95% of all new jobs created in Ontario were part-time
  • 1 in 3 jobs in Ontario is temporary, contract, or part-time.
  • 1 in 5 children live in poverty in Ontario
  •  17% of Grey County and Bruce County children under age 17 live in poverty.
  • 21 food banks exist in Grey County and Bruce County. 16% of the population of Bruce and Grey Counties have accessed a food bank.
  • In Ontario, the average food bank client spends 70% of income on rent.
  • Waitlist for Affordable Housing in Grey County has increased by 15% in the last year. 730 families are on the wait list.

How far the budget reaches down to support our Municipal budgets for affordable housing is still to be determined.  But the Federal leadership sets the direction for budge allocations going forward!

Measuring Homelessness in Grey County and Bruce County  

Our Housing Action Group will be monitoring and reporting on developments.   Currently, our Housing Action Group are developing the program design and implementation for Ontario’s Homelessness Enumeration on April 23rd to 27th, 2018.  This will be a Point-in-Time  Rural Survey carried out in partnership with community agencies and volunteers.

The report of Ontario’s Expert Advisory Panel on Homelessness (the Panel), A Place to Call Home, stated: “Over the past several decades, homelessness in Canada has been on the rise” (2015, p.7). The experience of homelessness is understood to be a severe form of deprivation for people affected by a wide range of factors over which they have no control, such as unemployment or precarious employment, challenges with finding affordable housing, and economic hardship. Further, homelessness has
unequal impacts that are linked with racialization, gender, sexual
orientation, age, ability, language, immigration status, socioeconomic
status, mental health and addictions issues, regional location, and
Indigenous identity. Learning more about the prevalence and realities of
homelessness can galvanize community stakeholders who want to
develop more effective ways of addressing it.

Read more about Grey County’s Trends and Analysis as part of its County of Grey Housing  and Homelessness Plan (2014-2024) and Bruce County’s Long-Term Housing Housing Strategy (2013-2023).

PTF Housing Action Group Minutes_3 Dec 2014

Housing Action Group of the Poverty Task Force met on December 3rd, 2014. Bob Hart, Public Health shared a logic model for the Housing Action Groups’ Above Standard Housing Project.  There is buy-in from the municipalities and they recognize the relationship between health and housing.

There is consideration to provide a workshop for this group and suggestion for potential topics from this group would be appreciated. One suggestion was to focus on a concrete topic such as mould and the relationship to health. Mould is a tough and huge issue because it could be a tenant or landlord issue. Possibilities at a workshop could be:

  • To provide a Mould case example and a toolkit, with a technical perspective. (Air quality testing as a tool). There are no standards when testing for mould. It was suggested that a toolkit for landlords could be a good idea for the workshop.
  • Another suggestion came from the Nov 14, 2014 Grey County Housing event, guest speaker who mentioned that some areas have tried an accredited apartment system for landlords.
  • Housing says more landlords and apartments are needed so it is important to present a positive message.
  • A potential issue for some landlords is a lack of resources. Some landlords cannot afford to fix things up. Age of Grey and Bruce housing units are much older than the provincial average so will have more problems.
  • Home inspection program with recommendations for inexpensive repairs.
  • OS bylaw staff provide suggestions for housing repairs. Some of the outlying municipalities are not involved with this.
  • Fire alarms and CO2 are not enforced in municipalities where there is no fire department. The workshop could also include fire safety, CO2, heat, and other topics which would help to build relationships with the bylaw staff.
  • Bylaw staff work only part time. CBO or clerk may be responsible for some of the responsibilities of housing inspection, therefore it would be advantageous to broaden the workshop invitation to those who are involved in these roles.  Workshop should also focus on : what can be done,  understanding each other’s role, and how to work together, gaps analysis.
  • Funding for a series have workshops is being sought with some initial support from Canadian Mortgage and Housing Association ($2,000).
  • Regional Project on mental health and addiction issues – Colleen Purdon did a focus group on the topic of mental health and addictions.  Recommendations from meeting on Friday. Housing considerations from a Housing First Model.  A Pilot project in Grey County has been recommended, with an outreach worker and chronic homelessness and another partner.   Impact of early trauma for substance abuse is evidence.  Colleen will share.
  • Glenda Devlin- Right to Housing rally – 500 people met at Yonge and Dundas in Toronto to march. A Forum was provided after the march. Coalition is about the charter challenge, a group is going to Supreme Court of Canada for charter rights, The Right to Argue the Charter for Housing and Homelessness Strategy.  Canada is the only G8 country that does not have a national housing strategy.   More than 35 organizations were represented.
  • Women’s Shelter funding – Patty mentioned that a research grant for $15,000 for women and girls was submitted last year. The Women’s Shelter partnered with HU last year but the grant did not get accepted for funding. This year the funding is available again with a deadline of Feb 1.  Patty will send information of this grant.
  • See full minutes at: Housing Committee Dec 3, 2014 minutes