While homelessness may not seem to be as evident or obvious in Bruce and Grey Counties, it is there. With rising rents and food costs, more people than ever are struggling to make ends meet. Local food banks report that they are trying to keep up with demand as landlords/rental companies/developers are increasing rents beyond what is humanly possible for most people to pay.
A major rental company in Saugeen Shores for example, in one short year, has increased rent for a two-bedroom unit from $1,680/month to $2,100.
In a recent April media release by MPP Rick Byers (Bruce-Grey Owen Sound), the Ontario government announced that it is investing an additional $202 million annually in the province’s Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supporting Housing Program, bringing Ontario’s total yearly investment in these programs close to $700 million.
The additional funding is supposed to help those experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness and to support community organizations delivering supportive housing. This additional funding includes:
- County of Bruce – $1,536,900 (increased by $599,400)
- County of Grey – $3,282,800 (increased by $1,237,200)
“This investment will make a real impact to support housing providers that help vulnerable people either at risk or already experiencing homelessness in our community,” said Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Rick Byers.
The additional funding, announced in the 2023 Budget, represents a 40 per cent increase in funding by the government to support the most vulnerable by providing supportive housing and homelessness prevention services. Within the $202 million, $190.5 million each year will be allocated to the Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP), which gives Ontario’s 47 Service Managers greater flexibility to allocate funding and make better use of existing resources to focus on delivering supports.
The remaining $11.5 million each year will be invested in the Indigenous Supportive Housing Program (ISHP), which provides Indigenous-led, culturally appropriate long-term housing solutions and support services to Indigenous people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
“We know Ontario’s housing supply crisis impacts all Ontarians, no matter their background or budget,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “That’s why we’ve increased funding for our homelessness prevention programs by more than 40 per cent. These measures complement the bold and transformational change we are implementing to tackle the housing supply crisis and get more homes built faster across Ontario.”
Without rent controls however, it doesn’t matter how much funding is made available as rents keep escalating.
“The Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supporting Housing Program are important steps that our government is taking to support those experiencing or at risk of homelessness,” said Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron-Bruce. “Through this investment, the most vulnerable, as well as our local communities, can have confidence in the access to needed supports.”
“Through strong partnerships and quality investment, Bruce County is able to build a strong housing response system for vulnerable residents,” said Bruce County Warden Chris Peabody. “Anyone that is homeless, or at risk of homelessness, is encouraged to contact local 211 services to secure a safe place to stay for the night, and learn about other services that may support residents in maintaining their current housing in Bruce County.”
“Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” said Grey County Warden Brian Milne. “Housing and homelessness prevention are a priority for Grey County, and this additional support for municipalities will help us work together to increase the supply of housing and tackle the homelessness crisis in Ontario.”
The increased funding is a result of a revised funding model that better reflects the current needs of individuals who are facing homelessness across Ontario. Funding dollars are being increased to address increased needs, particularly during a time of rising inflation, and to help ensure that no service manager receives a decrease in funding compared to 2022-23 as a result of the transition to the new model.
“Supportive housing provides people in need with a roof over their heads. It also connects them with services that provide a hand up to improve their circumstances, including mental health support and job training,” said Nina Tangri, Associate Minister for Housing. “Our government met with partners and stakeholders across the province this past fall – we heard their concerns and are addressing their valuable feedback to improve Ontario’s supportive housing system.
The changes also address the recommendation in the Auditor General’s 2021 value-for-money audit on homelessness, which called for a better funding model for homelessness programs that would target areas where funding is most needed.
In order to access HPP funding, Service Managers must have in place a comprehensive and up-to-date By-Name List of people experiencing homelessness, along with information about their needs. This is to ensure that Service Managers have the up-to-date information they need from individuals experiencing homelessness to help connect people to the right housing and supports as soon as they are available.
Through the Community Housing Renewal Strategy, response to COVID-19 and homelessness initiatives, over the past three years Ontario invested nearly $4.4 billion for community and supportive housing while addressing homelessness and the impacts of the pandemic for vulnerable Ontarians.
In 2022, the government introduced the More Homes Built Faster Act supposedly to take action to address the housing crisis by building 1.5 million homes by 2031. The plan also has measures to reduce municipal charges for housing providers looking to build non-profit and affordable housing for vulnerable Ontarians.