Hastings-Quinte Social Services is making a bid for new provincial funding to help combat homelessness in Belleville, Quinte West and Hastings County.
A report to the social services committee indicates the need for supportive housing and that the program could assist residents at risk of becoming homeless or have experienced homelessness.
A video presentation included Belleville Police Chief Ron Gignac saying the project would make a “dramatic” difference and reduce police responsibility in the area of homelessness.
He pointed out police are dealing with the homeless people sleeping in stairwells, or cars.
Gignac says police have seen 826 cases of homelessness in less than two years.
Also in the video, Belleville Fire Chief Mark MacDonald said, “We’ve seen, through our experiences, that there’s a number of people who simply don’t have any option for safe housing in the area and they need to be taken care of.
“There are significant life-safety issues that are involved with taking care of these people and we need the proper facility to do that.”
Garry Laws of Addictions and Mental Health Services-Hastings Prince Edward said the housing initiative is critically important due to the lack of affordable housing.
Chair Councillor Garnet Thompson told the committee the funding could help make sure “people with mental health issues are not living on our streets.”
The committee has decided to apply for the provincially-funded Home For Good program.
Officials say that if successful Hastings County will work with the LHIN to design a project for affordable housing and support services over the next two years.
Changes to child services
Quinte social services officials are preparing for changes to Ontario’s Early Years Child and Family Centres.
Right now, Hastings-Quinte delivers two kinds of children’s services – Ontario Early Years Centres and Child Care Resource Centres.
That will change under the new provincial program when four services must be delivered, the present two and including Parenting and Family Literacy Centres and one called Better Beginnings and Better Futures.
Community Planner Sheleena Forfar spoke to the Social Service committee on Wednesday.
Forfar says there will also be a local needs assessments with “local indigenous community partners to enhance access to culturally relevant early years programs.”