[Hpn] City council plans to pursue housing strategy to get people off streets

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Thu, 24 Jan 2008 13:32:59 -0500


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Targeting homeless; City council plans to pursue housing strategy to get =
people off streets Posted By Denis St. Pierre
http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3D871731&auth=3DDenis=
+St.+Pierre

A strategy shift, modelled on successful American and European programs, =
is needed in Greater Sudbury's battle against homelessness, city council =
says.=20

Council accepted a report Wednesday recommending the pursuit of a =
"Housing First" strategy that has been adopted in several American and =
European jurisdictions to house the chronically homeless.=20

Housing First programs place people at risk into proper housing as a =
first step, rather than imposing prerequisites such as resolving alcohol =
or drug abuse before they earn their shelter.=20

Experience shows the Housing First approach of providing suitable =
housing as the first step makes it easier to help the homeless deal with =
related issues such as mental health problems, addictions and poverty, =
advocates say.=20

"There are many (related) problems, but you can't make a start until you =
have affordable housing first," said Margaret Borley, a member of a =
community solutions team appointed by city council in mid-2006 to =
develop a new plan to tackle homelessness.=20

After 18 months of study, the seven-member group presented its final =
report to council Wednesday night. The report emphasizes the merits and =
positive results of housing-first strategies in other jurisdictions.=20

In the United States, the federal government has introduced a national =
housing strategy that aims to have the homeless moved immediately from =
the streets or from shelters into their own community-based apartments.=20

Reports indicate the housing-first strategy has significantly reduced =
homeless numbers in several major American cities by 25 to 50 per cent.=20

In contrast, the numbers of homeless in Canada continue to rise, say =
advocates of housing-first strategies. Proponents of the housing-first =
approach have called on the Canadian government to launch a nationwide =
strategy to better address homelessness.=20

"We believe wholeheartedly that this is the best approach to alleviating =
homelessness in our community," said Vicki Smith, co-chairwoman of the =
community solutions teams appointed by city council.=20

Given the city's housing crunch, the need for provincial and federal =
funding for affordable housing and homelessness programs has never been =
greater, Smith told council.=20

"The vacancy rate in Greater Sudbury is so low that this task has become =
of paramount importance," she said.=20

"Without the commitment and financial support from senior levels of =
government, communities like ours will continue to struggle" to make a =
significant dent in local homeless numbers.=20

On any given day in Greater Sudbury there are about 300 homeless people =
who are housed in temporary or emergency shelters, Smith and Borley told =
council. As well, an average of 60 homeless people in any month do not =
have shelter in the city and literally are living on the street, they =
said.=20

The report presented to council Wednesday calls for creation of a =
planning body "to support and facilitate the goals of the Housing First =
Strategy."=20

The planning group should consist of an alliance of several community =
organizations, all levels of government and housing developers, the =
report recommends.=20

The report features three other recommendations, namely:=20

That city council direct its social service staff to implement various =
components of the proposed housing-first strategy;=20

That an annual report card be developed to follow the progress new =
measures;=20

Ensuring that all agencies receiving funding from the city for =
homelessness programs use the same data collection system.=20

Ward 11 Coun. Janet Gasparini, a member of the solutions team that =
prepared the report, said she is optimistic that greater progress in the =
battle against homelessness is at hand.=20

"I have a lot more hope at this point than I had say, three years ago, =
because it's on more people's agenda," Gasparini said.=20

Governments at all levels are recognizing it is more efficient and =
cost-effective to fund programs such as Housing First which lower other =
costs associated with the homeless, such as emergency hospital visits =
and admissions, court cases, and the burden of emergency and other =
public services.=20

dstpierre@thesudburystar.com


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<DIV id=3Dctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_pMainContent>
<H2 style=3D"MARGIN-TOP: 0px">Targeting homeless; City council plans to =
pursue=20
housing strategy to get people off streets Posted By Denis St. =
Pierre</H2>
<DIV class=3Dgrey><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3D871731&amp;=
auth=3DDenis+St.+Pierre">http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.asp=
x?e=3D871731&amp;auth=3DDenis+St.+Pierre</A></FONT></DIV>
<DIV class=3Dgrey>&nbsp;</DIV>
<P class=3DaJustify>A&nbsp;strategy shift, modelled on successful =
American and=20
European programs, is needed in Greater Sudbury's battle against =
homelessness,=20
city council says. </P>
<P>Council accepted a report Wednesday recommending the pursuit of a =
"Housing=20
First" strategy that has been adopted in several American and European=20
jurisdictions to house the chronically homeless. </P>
<P>Housing First programs place people at risk into proper housing as a =
first=20
step, rather than imposing prerequisites such as resolving alcohol or =
drug abuse=20
before they earn their shelter. </P>
<P>Experience shows the Housing First approach of providing suitable =
housing as=20
the first step makes it easier to help the homeless deal with related =
issues=20
such as mental health problems, addictions and poverty, advocates say. =
</P>
<P>"There are many (related) problems, but you can't make a start until =
you have=20
affordable housing first," said Margaret Borley, a member of a community =

solutions team appointed by city council in mid-2006 to develop a new =
plan to=20
tackle homelessness. </P>
<P>After 18 months of study, the seven-member group presented its final =
report=20
to council Wednesday night. The report emphasizes the merits and =
positive=20
results of housing-first strategies in other jurisdictions. </P>
<P>In the United States, the federal government has introduced a =
national=20
housing strategy that aims to have the homeless moved immediately from =
the=20
streets or from shelters into their own community-based apartments. </P>
<P>Reports indicate the housing-first strategy has significantly reduced =

homeless numbers in several major American cities by 25 to 50 per cent. =
</P>
<P>In contrast, the numbers of homeless in Canada continue to rise, say=20
advocates of housing-first strategies. Proponents of the housing-first =
approach=20
have called on the Canadian government to launch a nationwide strategy =
to better=20
address homelessness. </P>
<P>"We believe wholeheartedly that this is the best approach to =
alleviating=20
homelessness in our community," said Vicki Smith, co-chairwoman of the =
community=20
solutions teams appointed by city council. </P>
<P>Given the city's housing crunch, the need for provincial and federal =
funding=20
for affordable housing and homelessness programs has never been greater, =
Smith=20
told council.&nbsp;</P>
<DIV id=3DinMainPic></DIV>
<P class=3DaJustify>"The vacancy rate in Greater Sudbury is so low that =
this task=20
has become of paramount importance," she said. </P>
<P>"Without the commitment and financial support from senior levels of=20
government, communities like ours will continue to struggle" to make a=20
significant dent in local homeless numbers. </P>
<P>On any given day in Greater Sudbury there are about 300 homeless =
people who=20
are housed in temporary or emergency shelters, Smith and Borley told =
council. As=20
well, an average of 60 homeless people in any month do not have shelter =
in the=20
city and literally are living on the street, they said. </P>
<P>The report presented to council Wednesday calls for creation of a =
planning=20
body "to support and facilitate the goals of the Housing First =
Strategy." </P>
<P>The planning group should consist of an alliance of several community =

organizations, all levels of government and housing developers, the =
report=20
recommends. </P>
<P>The report features three other recommendations, namely: </P>
<P>That city council direct its social service staff to implement =
various=20
components of the proposed housing-first strategy; </P>
<P>That an annual report card be developed to follow the progress new =
measures;=20
</P>
<P>Ensuring that all agencies receiving funding from the city for =
homelessness=20
programs use the same data collection system. </P>
<P>Ward 11 Coun. Janet Gasparini, a member of the solutions team that =
prepared=20
the report, said she is optimistic that greater progress in the battle =
against=20
homelessness is at hand. </P>
<P>"I have a lot more hope at this point than I had say, three years =
ago,=20
because it's on more people's agenda," Gasparini said. </P>
<P>Governments at all levels are recognizing it is more efficient and=20
cost-effective to fund programs such as Housing First which lower other =
costs=20
associated with the homeless, such as emergency hospital visits and =
admissions,=20
court cases, and the burden of emergency and other public services. </P>
<P><A=20
href=3D"mailto:dstpierre@thesudburystar.com">dstpierre@thesudburystar.com=
</A></P></DIV>
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