It was just a small snapshot of homelessness in Hastings County but the results came with a few surprises.
At the Housing and Homelessness meeting of the Poverty Roundtable of Hastings and Prince Edward on Wednesday afternoon, Steve van de Hoef presented the findings from a survey at Maranatha Church.
Four communities were surveyed during a one week period in April and he says the results reflect the minimum number of those who are homeless.
Of those surveyed, 45% experienced chronic homelessness and 55% have said they first experienced being homeless before the age of 24.
There are three definitions of homeless according to The Homeless Hub.
Unsheltered is sleeping rough, sleeping in public places or places not intended for human habitation (e.g. cars, vacant buildings).
Emergency sheltered is accessing emergency shelters or hotel/motel beds in lieu of shelters.
Provisionally accommodated is to live temporarily with others (e.g. couch-surfing) or temporary rental agreements, as well as using transitional housing and institutions where individuals may be discharged into homelessness.
There are currently no emergency shelters in our area, but there is one in the works, Grace Inn.
Van de Hoef says this is the first time a count like this has been done in the County.
He did point out that knowing how many people are homeless isn’t the focal point.
Christine Durant, Prince Edward Poverty Roundtable director spoke at the beginning of the meeting and says while you would expect places like Toronto and the GTA to have the highest rent increases in Ontario, she pointed out it is actually Belleville at 5.9% over Toronto’s 4.2%.
She told those in attendance that in order for a single person to afford the average monthly rental cost of $915 a month, they need to have a monthly income of $3,050. For those who are looking for a family rental at a cost of $1,400, the monthly income jumps to $4,600.
Durant says their overall goal is to eliminate the causes of poverty in Hastings Prince Edward.
Of those surveyed, 150 were from Belleville, 50 from Quinte West, 10 from Bancroft and one from Madoc.
There were 182 adults and 24 dependent children included in those totals.
Seventy-0ne percent of those are provisionally accommodated.
Fifty percent of those surveyed are between 25 and 49.
Van de Hoef says of those surveyed 61% rely on ODSP and 25% on social assistance.
Those surveyed were asked if they wanted to get into permanent housing to which 95% responded yes.
To help them break the cycle, affordable housing and a higher wage were the top two things mentioned that would help those who are currently experiencing homelessness.
Panel speaker Dierdre McDade from Community Advocacy and Legal Clinic said she’d like to see housing as a basic human right.