Rural Homeless Enumeration 2018

full length of man sitting outdoors

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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.

 

Dealing with the cost of utilities in Bruce Grey_a new report

15 October 2013

A recent report by Bruce and Grey Counties summarizes the changes in job security and the impact of the rising cost of utilities.

It is estimated that about 1 in 3 Canadians live pay cheque to pay cheque and support service agencies in Bruce and Grey Counties find that most of the people they serve fall into this category. This means that a sudden change in a household’s situation, such as job loss, sickness or family break-up, can easily lead to housing affordability issues, including utility arrears.

Poverty is a root cause for this precarious position and the rising cost of utilities is yet one more issue that households in poverty have to cope with.

In Bruce and Grey Counties, the face of poverty is changing – service providers are starting to see seniors who are facing challenges and this was not the case in the past. While many seniors no longer have a mortgage on their home, many have modest, fixed incomes that are no longer sufficient to cover the rising costs of maintaining their homes, including utilities. Some seniors are particularly affected and anecdotal accounts have reported seniors going to bed in snow suits, using barbeques in their kitchens or reducing food purchases as a way to cope with utility costs. Many people refuse to ask for help with their utilities until the situation is quite dire, which in turn requires more community resources to resolve.

Recent data on service inquiries underscore the growing impact of utility issues. Community Connection/Ontario 211 receives calls and provides information on the services available in local communities. In 2012, the agency received a total of 2,401 call related to housing need from Grey County residents. Of these, 79% (1,895 calls) were related to utility arrears. Similarly, the agency received a total of 1,060 calls from Bruce County residents and 86% (919 calls) were related to utility arrears.

The issue of utility arrears affects the whole community and addressing it requires the collaboration of multiple stakeholders, including support service agencies, governments, utility providers and the clients themselves. Workshop participants proposed a number of solutions to help address the issue of utility arrears in Bruce and Grey Counties. The challenge ahead is how to advance possible solutions and make progress in alleviating utility arrears issues.

As part of the workshop, participants suggested possible next steps, including:
• Continue to meet on this issue and engage other stakeholders, such as the Legal Clinic and Poverty Task Force
• Increase political awareness on the issue
• Undertake educational activities for clients, including workshops and developing educational material
• Advocate for additional LEAP and CHPI funding
• Fundraise in the community

See the full report: Utilities Workshop – What We Heard Utility Workshop FINAL October 3, 2013

Cochraine District Social Services Admin seeks housing solution

By Ron Grech, The Daily Press (Timmins)

Thursday, August 1, 2013 7:36:28 EDT PM

TIMMINS – Iroquois Falls has provided a “perfect example” of how social housing for seniors should be funded.

Now, the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board would like to see this model adopted on a broader scale.

The 10 supportive housing units in Iroquois Falls is unique in the sense that it is partially funded by the province through the North East Local Health Integration Network.

Brian Marks, director of housing services with the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board, said it makes perfect sense for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to contribute to seniors housing.

“When we look at the long-term care crisis we’re facing in Timmins and the inappropriate useage of health-care facilities at Timmins and District Hospital, we know the burden can be lifted if the (health-related) supports could just be delivered where the seniors already live,” said Marks. “We’ve got hundreds of seniors who live in units that need supports, and they’re not getting them. So guess where they go?

“They end up in the emergency room or they end up on the third floor at TDH unnecessarily.”

Marks will be attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa in two weeks, where he will be making a pitch to health ministry officials to provide more funding into seniors housing.

In the meantime, Marks and a team of representatives from CDSSAB were in Iroquois Falls Thursday, hosting the last in a series of five public consultation sessions on social housing.

The two previous days, they held sessions in Hearst, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls and Cochrane.

The information being collected from these sessions will be used to develop a 10-year housing plan for the district. The intent is to ensure social housing needs are met in communities throughout the district.

“We’ve been getting good suggestions on some of the things that absolutely need to be considered in a housing plan,” said Marks.

“Certainly the common issue across all of the communities is seniors. We know the seniors population in Northern Ontario is aging at a greater rate than the provincial average. It’s a critical issue. Seniors want to age in their communities. They don’t want to have to move someplace else to get care.”

The public consultation meetings held this week were attended by residents, people with an interest in seniors’ housing, municipal leaders, community developers, and representatives from the Aboriginal community.

Marks said he is hoping to have a draft form of the plan recirculated to the communities by September.

“I have deadlines with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to have it in before the end of September so the ministry can have their 90-day review. It has to be in place by Jan. 1, 2014.

“It’s an aggressive timeline only because a lot of the income data isn’t available from Statistics Canada until sometime in October.”