Province pledges $20 million to combat homelessness in Niagara region

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Published April 12, 2023 at 11:53 am

Homeless encampments in flood-risk area a major safety concern in Brampton

The Ontario government announced it plans to invest $20 million to help combat homelessness in the Niagara Region. 

Yesterday (April 11), the Province announced that it’s investing an additional $202 million annually in its Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supporting Housing Program, which includes $20,771,400 for the region.

The Province said this marks an increase of 86 per cent.

According to a news release, the increased funding for Niagara amounts to $62,314,200 over three years–a total increase of almost 30 million from 2022/23.

“Our government is working hard to ensure every person in Ontario has access to safe and affordable housing,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West, in a statement.

“This significant increase almost doubling provincial funding for supportive housing in Niagara is part of our plan to address the housing crisis across the province. Today’s announcement builds on our efforts through Bill 23 and Bill 97 to build more homes and make life more affordable for Ontario families.”

According to a recent homelessness services report presented to regional council earlier this month, 1,099 people in the region are currently unhoused, and 550 individuals are experiencing chronic homelessness as of Dec. 31, 2022. 

This compares to 422 (or 40 per cent) experiencing chronic homelessness during the same period in 2021. The report attributes the increase to the expensive and competitive housing and rental markets. More financially vulnerable individuals are having difficulty finding housing when the average vacancy rates are as low as 1 per cent for units considered affordable for lower-income households.

The report also notes an increase in substance use and mental health issues. 

“On behalf of regional council, I want to thank the provincial government for their generous increase in funding for homelessness programs in Niagara that was announced today,” said Jim Bradley, Chair of the Regional Municipality of Niagara, in a statement.

“It is clear there is a significant need for homeless program funding across our community and these new monies will go a long way in supporting the most vulnerable residents in all 12 of our communities. I want to thank our talented and tenacious staff for continuing to advocate for Niagara – without their persistent communication I do not believe this would have become a reality. I also want to thank the province for listening to our concerns and making the investments necessary to ensure we can better help those experiencing homelessness across Niagara – I know this new money will be put to good use.”

The Province says that under the $202 million, $190.5 million each year will be allocated to the Homelessness Prevention Program. The remaining $11.5 million will be invested in the Indigenous Supportive Housing Program.

The Province says funding dollars are being increased to address increased needs, particularly during a time of rising inflation.

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