Huron County, Ontario – The County of Huron continues to work diligently in addressing the challenges associated with homelessness, poverty and housing instability in Huron County. To properly address the complexities of homelessness, both immediate action and long-term solutions are required.
“Individual people, each with unique experiences and challenges, require an individualized response,’ said Warden Jim Ginn. “Responding to homelessness is not just about providing housing, it requires relationship and trust building and often means addressing complex issues including past traumas, mental illness or addiction. For these reasons, addressing homelessness takes both immediate action as well as time and commitment.”
Immediate actions being taken by the County of Huron to address homelessness include:
- A Homelessness Task Force was developed to advocate for and address immediate needs;
- Supporting and coordinating diversion from shelter and/or emergency shelter solutions. Rigorous work continues towards securing suitable accommodations for vulnerable populations, especially in the nearing cold months.
- Partnership with Huron-Perth United Way to deliver Urgent Needs Funding;
- Using Social Services Relief Funding to support those most vulnerable with a variety of services, including temporary accommodations, housing allowances, food and supplies, and more; and
- A variety of Communication pieces drafted to provide education at the local level and advocate for increased support at the provincial level.
In addition to addressing immediate needs, the County recognizes that addressing homelessness requires long-term commitment. To this end, work on the Long-term Affordable Housing and Homelessness Plan, 2014-2024 continues with the goal of preventing homelessness, providing appropriate housing and supports to those who require it, and creating an absence of need for emergency shelters. Details of this progress can be found in the Long-term Affordable Housing and Homelessness Plan 5 year review.
Long-term actions being taken to address homelessness by the County of Huron include:
- Homelessness enumeration project was completed in 2018 to better understand the scope of homelessness within the County;
- Ownership and management of rent-geared to income properties and additional tenant supports;
- Supplement programs for private landlords offering social housing;
- Financial support to a variety of supportive and preventative programs, including transitional housing services, ASH Housing (Addiction Supportive Housing), CMHA housing programs (both Middlesex and Huron-Perth CMHA) and youth homelessness prevention programs; and
- Local agency co-ordination for support services to those in need.
“It’s important for our communities to recognize that destructive behaviours and homelessness do not always go hand-in-hand, in fact many homeless do not cause a disturbance,” said Barbara Hall, Director of Social and Property Services. “There are many complexities to homelessness and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We’ve seen some individuals choose not to participate in services offered to them and instead follow their own journey. Regardless, the Social and Property Services department and our community partner agencies are dedicated to helping everyone that we can.”
There are many factors which can put an individual at risk for homelessness and every experience of homelessness is unique. The County is committed to improving the quality of life for all people of Huron, including those facing multiple barriers so that they may live independently.
Community members can be part of the solution. Here’s how:
- As a Landlord, consider participating with the County of Huron in offering rentals to the most vulnerable in our community knowing the County would continue to support these individuals when housed;
- As a private citizen, consider a secondary unit in homes – low vacancy rates make it difficult to obtain affordable housing;
- Work with community partners to support those in emergency housing situations by volunteering or making donations;
- Support housing initiatives in local communities; and
- Become an ambassador for those most vulnerable in the community by breaking down stigmas.
Individuals in need of access to Social Housing can contact the Huron County Social and Property Services department at 519.482.8505.