Mississauga Library Receives Funding to Fight Homelessness

While few people associated Mississauga—or any suburb, really—with homelessness, extreme poverty is absolutely an issue in the community.

For that reason, it's encouraging to hear that the Mississauga Library System was recently awarded $122,524 in federal funding to help fight homelessness.

The City of Mississauga says the project was funded in part by the Government of Canada's Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). Delivered across the country, the Innovative Solutions to Homelessness funding stream of HPS supports "the development of innovative approaches to prevent and reduce homelessness."

Since Mississauga has been active on poverty issues for sometime, the wheels for this were set in motion quite a few months back.

In 2016, the city submitted a proposal through the library for the development of a pilot project called Open Window Hub. The program is intended to help homeless individuals in Mississauga.

The Open Window Hub will promote inclusiveness of vulnerable youth and adults, provide outreach services in the library, allow the homeless to work with a professional to prepare plans to address their situation and offer a referral service that connects those at risk or those who are homeless with community agencies that provide tools and resources for empowerment.

The project is an important one.

The United Way reports that In 2015, over 14,000 people — including close to 4,000 children and youth — used homeless shelters and transitional housing. More recently, the city launched its Making Room for the Middle affordable housing strategy to better help the staggering amount of residents who spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

"Open Window Hub utilizes best practices from library programs focused on the homeless population. It will also help ensure partnerships are developed and maintained between the Library and other service organizations," said Rose Vespa, Director of Library Services, Mississauga Library System, City of Mississauga. "Funding such as this allows us to address a gap in service. We will create innovative day-time library programs that provide outreach and links to services for the homeless population they can easily access through our libraries."

In addition to the project, a Homeless Prevention Outreach Worker will be hired to support and empower homeless and at-risk individuals. These workers will develop treatment and housing plans to assist residents in overcoming homelessness, while also connecting those in need to necessary services.

"The Government of Canada is proud to support the City of Mississauga through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy program's Innovative Solutions to Homelessness funding stream," said the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. "The City's cutting-edge Working Together to Serve Homeless Customers in New Ways project aims to have a Homeless Prevention Outreach Worker reach out and provide support to local homeless individuals who use the library system. This project is a prime example of how such a unique outreach program can effectively explore innovative ways to help prevent and reduce homelessness and make a real difference in the lives of community homeless populations."

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