CORNWALL — A report commissioned by the Department of Employment and Social Development was released last week detailing the long-term impact of COVID-19 on homelessness and poverty. It’s certainly a grim picture, with Nick Falvo, the report’s author, predicting a 10 to 15 per cent increase in homelessness over the next three to five years. However, Falvo also says that preventative measures can be taken now, and it appears as if the Ontario government is responding to that call.
Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced $47 million to assist those suffering from mental illness and addictions who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The funding will also go towards the Back To Home program, which aims to support people transitioning from hospitals to permanent housing.
The expenditure is part of a larger $176 million allocation called Roadmap To Wellness. This includes $6.6 million for supportive housing providers, $1.9 million for enhanced support services for tenants of community homes, $850,000 in rent supplements, $10 million to strengthen mental health and addiction supports, and over $14 million for expanding mental health services across the justice system.
“This additional investment in supportive housing will help put a roof over the heads of individuals living with severe mental health and addictions challenges and enable them to live independently,” said Minister Elliott. “It will also alleviate hospital capacity pressures, and provide landlords with the resources they need to upgrade and maintain supportive housing and provide a safe and comfortable home for their tenants.”
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Ontarians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and our government is committed to getting them the mental health and addictions support they need,” said Minister Clark. “This is a critical first step down the road to recovery for those who are suffering from these issues. That’s why we are increasing funding to strengthen mental health and addictions services in communities across Ontario to help vulnerable people.”
“Every person in Ontario deserves access to the most appropriate supports as they move forward in their journey to mental wellness,” said Associate Minister Tibollo. “By investing in supportive housing for Ontarians challenged by mental health and addictions issues, we are providing some of our most vulnerable populations with access to safe and secure housing, as well as access to the services they need, when and where they need them.”
“The new Back to Home program provides people struggling with severe mental health and addictions the assistance they need for a successful transition to permanent housing,” said Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.