Motel for the homeless – The Barrie Examiner

Jennifer wants a decent apartment for herself and her unborn child.

Angela would like a home without bed bugs and Elliott needs a place that will accept him without worrying about his criminal record.

The three people seated outside the David Busby Street Centre in downtown Barrie are hoping the new partnership formed between Simcoe County, the City of Barrie, the Busby centre and Redwood Park Communities will mean a roof over their heads this year.

Weve been kicking around this idea for about two years now, said Sara Peddle, executive director of Barries Busby centre which offers resources and support services to approximately 300 people each year.

Peddle, and Tim Kent, executive director of Redwood Park Communities, which offers funding and construction assistance to build second or granny suites for women and children, brainstormed affordable housing and brought their idea to county staff for assistance.

A local but as yet unnamed Barrie motel was put forth as a place to house several Busby clients, and the county began to work with the pair of poverty advocates last winter.

Seventeen units is small, but its a start, said Peddle. This is a project for the highest-needs individuals, who are chronically homeless.

Peddle said an informal study in January 2016 showed the centre served 292 individuals, 8% of whom were sleeping outside in the winter.

So, any time we can get creative and create units and focus on our most vulnerable, it has a tremendous impact, she said.

The county is applying to the government under the Home for Good funding model announced by the Ministry of Housing.

The province offered $25 million in 2017 and another $50 million between 2017 and 2019 for housing assistance and supports across Ontario for people who fall within priority homelessness areas.

They include chronic homelessness (six or more months), youth, Indigenous and homelessness following transition from institutions and service systems.

As part of Simcoe Countys 10-year affordable housing and homelessness prevention strategy, it hopes to create 2,685 new units, including 840 in Barrie, said Jan Janssen, the countys director of children and community services.

Between 2014 and 2016, 544 new units were created across Simcoe County, with 246 of those in Barrie.

Janssen said meetings with the non-profit Busby centre and Redwood have reinforced the countys plans to work collectively with private and public organizations to expand its homelessness strategy.

This pilot project would provide an opportunity to introduce an innovative format of affordable housing, intended to meet the needs the chronically homeless, who often face a myriad of additional challenges, Janssen said.

She envisions services being delivered through a housing first approach, which relies on mental-health supports, life-skills training and addiction outreach offered to the residents acquiring resident assistance.

Kent said he hopes in addition to the 17 motel units, the partnership could build an additional 10 tiny houses behind the units and create a garden so the inhabitants could grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables.

We want the look and feel of being home, Kent said.

Redwood has six second suites built and expects to have another three finished by October.

He said they have re-housed 10 women and 18 children to date.

That number is growing and we know were really having an impact. Thats why were doing this, he said.

The province has said it will announce if the project has been approved by the end of August.

CBrowne@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/cherylbrowne1

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Motel for the homeless - The Barrie Examiner

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