Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 75

Dear Colleagues, 

On Monday, October 18, Grey County and Bruce County are working with community partners to conduct a one-day survey for individuals experiencing homelessness. Everyone counts. They want to hear from those who are sleeping on the street, couch surfing, or temporarily housed.

This review will be a point-in-time count that provides a snapshot of the number of people experiencing homelessness in both Counties. The information provided will help both Counties better understand the current scope of homelessness in the area and data will be used to inform future decisions around needed supports and services.

  • Organizations/agencies/community members are asked for their help in directing people to various hub sites where staff and volunteers will be able to meet with individuals experiencing homelessness. 
  • Anyone experiencing homelessness is asked to complete the survey. 
  • Information collected will remain anonymous. 
  • The enumeration will collect demographic information using a set of standard questions.The same survey is being used by both Counties. 
  • All participants will receive a gift card as thanks for supporting the survey. 
  • Volunteers will be available to answer questions and help connect people with available supports.   
  • The survey can also be completed by phone by calling 516-376-5744.
  • For more information about the housing and homelessness survey, please contact josh.gibson@grey.ca or tdickson@brucecounty.on.ca 


Stay well, Jill 

Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 74

Dear Colleagues, 

Cathy Hird wrote in a Owen Sound Hub article that “one day is not enough”. Many partners hosted or participated in National Truth and Reconciliation Day/Orange Shirt Day last week. But we must continue to improve relations and to understand what actions we are committed to as “treaty people”. 

While May 5th, 2021 was Red Dress Day, this week is Red Dress Awareness Week. October 4th marked Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day. A day when we honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people, support grieving families, and create opportunities for healing.

The 2021 National Action Plan responds to the many demands to end violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. It is meant to honour and respect Indigenous and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples’ values, philosophies, knowledge systems, and agencies through the prioritization of Indigenous-led solutions and services, developed in partnership and sustained through the adequate resourcing of this work. 
The National Action Plan responds to the Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Métis Perspectives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and LGBTQ2S+ People report.

The National Action Plan is not meant to be frozen in time; it is evergreen, recognizing the urgency for immediate action, but also the importance of continuing to cultivate transformative change over time.

COVID19 IMPACT SURVEY – GREY COUNTY & BRUCE COUNTY

  • A county-wide survey is asking Grey County and Bruce County residents how COVID-19 has impacted their daily lives. Residents are being asked to provide feedback on a range of social, economic, and health-related questions. The survey is in partnership with the University of Guelph. Results will help the County and local municipalities make important decisions regarding pandemic recovery efforts. Go to: Grey County Survey or Bruce County Survey

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS

HOUSING SUPPORTS

  • Tamarack Is hosting a mid-Ontario Rural Community of Practice (CoP)  on Tuesday, October 12th from 1-2pm. Dominica McPherson, Coordinator of the Guelph-Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, will help to kick off our conversation by sharing their YIMBY campaign and how they have reduced overall chronic homelessness by 25% and youth chronic homelessness by 76% in the community. Contact Jill Umbach if you want to join the zoom call. 
  • Rentsafe Owen Sound Collaborative: our Landlord Survey is still open. Recently Erica Phipps and Jill Umbach joined Mary Jane Murray on Rogers TV.  Start at the 30 minute mark for the Rentsafe interview

INCOME SUPPORTS

  • New Rules for Employment Insurance: There are new pandemic-related changes coming to the Employment Insurance system that took effect Sunday, September 26. This is a list of a few changes. To see all criteria, visit Service Canada at  https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html
  • Eligibility: In the last year, EI applicants received a one-time top-up of hours to help them qualify. This ends and is replaced by a requirement to have worked 420 hours to qualify. These hours will be in place until September 24, 2022. 
  • To qualify for EI-Sickness benefits, the government is again requiring a medical certificate proving the applicant is sick and can’t work. This requirement was waived over the last year because of COVID-19. 
  • Benefits: The weekly minimum payment will decline to $300/m from $500/m.  
    • Regional unemployment rates will once again be used to calculate the duration and value of benefits. 
    • Anyone with an existing EI claim won’t see any changes to the value or duration of their benefits with the new rules.  
  • Seasonal workers in 13 regions will still be eligible for 5 extra weeks of EI regular benefits until October 2022. This is specific to seasonal workers who started claims between August 5, 2018 and this coming October 30th and depends on them having 3 claims for regular or fishing benefits in the last 5 years, and at least 2 starting around the same time of year. 

FOOD SECURITY SUPPORTS

  • Meals2Motels: After 19 months, the United Way is phasing out of the Meals to Motels program as of September 30th. Close to 12,500 OSHaRE meals were delivered to those housed in motels. 
    • OSHaRE remains available to support people with meals twice a day. 
    • The YMCA Housing team will ensure there are frozen meals at the Key Motel in Chatsworth.
  • OSHaRE served more than 10,000 meals in August 2021. In all of 2019, OSHaRE served 22,000 meals. 
    • Pre-pandemic, OSHaRE was serving about 100 meals per day, and that rose to about 300 to 350 in the spring of 2020. Currently they are serving  between 150 and 200 people at lunch Monday to Saturday and from 280 to 350 at dinner Monday to Friday. All meals remain take-out due to the pandemic.
    • OSHaRE has observed that the rising cost of food and cost of living in general means they are seeing more people that need our service than ever before. There is no sign of the need waning.
  • Since March 2020, the Owen Sound Salvation Army has provided practical food assistance valued at $1,001,890.00. 
    • They have added an additional 321 new households that have never needed to use Food Bank services since the start of the pandemic.  

  FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

  • The United Way has released its 2022 call for United Way grants. Deadline is December 10th, 2021. Contact Francesca Dobbyn to discuss ideas and potential partnerships.  All the details, online application links, PDFs of the questions and any updates are on the United Way’s website: https://unitedwayofbrucegrey.com/about-us/community-impact-grants/2021-granting-call/
  • The Ontario government has announced a new $1.6 million Anti-Racism Anti-Hate Grant Program. Eligible organizations, including community-based, not-for-profit organizations, can apply for grants of $40,000 over 2 years for independent projects, or $100,000 over 2 years for partnerships between two or more organizations.

 Stay well, Jill 

MEDIA RELEASE: RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative launches Landlords Survey

RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative launches first of two surveys on rental housing conditions and concerns in Owen Sound

The RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative is reaching out to housing providers and tenants to get a better picture of rental housing conditions and concerns in Owen Sound. The Collaborative, a voluntary collaboration of agencies, community organizations, landlords, and tenants working to support healthy and dignified housing, is conducting an online survey of landlords and property managers, to be followed by a similar survey with tenants.

The Collaborative hopes that, taken together, the surveys will shed light on the issues and challenges that housing providers and tenants are facing. The results will be publicly shared to support community dialogue on possible actions to improve housing conditions for tenants and better support landlords in maintaining safe and healthy rental units.

The first survey, an online survey of landlords and property managers who own or manage rental housing in Owen Sound, will launch on Wednesday, September 15th and remain open until the end of October. The survey invites landlords and property managers, including private market, non-profit and social housing, to share their views on range of issues.

Questions ask about their challenges with maintaining units, experiences involving tenants, such as concerns about tenant mental health, experiences with enforcement agencies or the Landlord & Tenant Board, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey is anonymous and takes approximately 12-15 minutes to complete. The surveys are being developed by members of the RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative, based in part on a City of Montreal tenant survey on rental housing conditions. The surveys are presented as a joint initiative of the Grey Bruce Health Unit, the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, Community Voices, and RentSafe, and are being conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Ottawa.

Since October 2019, participants of the RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative have been tackling housing inadequacy through research and finding new ways of working together toward potential solutions. For more information and to access the survey link, visit rentsafe.ca/owen-sound/.

Media Contact

For media inquiries or to request an interview, please contact:
Jill Umbach, povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com, 519-377-9406

To learn more about the surveys or the RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative more generally, please contact:

▪ Rosanne Roy, Coordinator, RentSafe Owen Sound Collaborative, Rosanne.Roy@ontario.ca
▪ Jill Umbach, Network Coordinator, Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force, povertytaskforce@unitedwaybg.com
▪ Greg Nicol, Fire Prevention Officer, Owen Sound Fire and Emergency Services, gnicol@owensound.ca
▪ Andrew Barton, Public Health Manager, Grey Bruce Health Unit, A.Barton@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca
▪ Erica Phipps, Director, RentSafe | Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Ottawa, ephipps@uottawa.ca