City of Peterborough requesting more homelessness funding from Peterborough County

Peterborough city council is asking Peterborough County council for more money to help fund three homelessness services provided by the city, which also serve rural residents who move to Peterborough.

At Wednesday’s county council meeting, council will receive a letter from the city requesting that county funding for homelessness be increased by $320,500 on top of its current rate of $208,250, totalling $528,750 — a 154 per cent increase.

“The city has increased its funding commitment to homeless services with the loss of provincial funding and the city is hopeful that the county will see to raising its funding commitment as well,” states the letter.

City council approved a report in January, as part of its approval of the 2023 city budget, which focused on three key homelessness services the city initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic: an overflow shelter, motel rooms and a rapid rehousing program.

These three programs were funded during the pandemic by the provincial social services relief fund provided to all service managers in Ontario and “were integral to the homelessness response during the pandemic, and they remain integral to ensuring appropriate services are available to the city and county’s homeless population,” the letter states.

The city’s report states there continues to be a need for these services and proposes funding options for each one.

According to the report, the city increased its 2023 overall homelessness budget by $759,500 to a total of $1,562,000 with the majority earmarked to fund the overflow shelter, a 32-bed facility on Wolfe Street in Peterborough, which was originally intended to be temporary but has now been funded to operate to the end of 2023 at least.

The report identified three specific services that the city’s additional funding will support: $103,500 for 24/7 hours of operation at the overflow shelter during November and December, $100,000 for motel costs for people who cannot be accommodated at emergency shelters and $117,000 to continue the rapid rehousing initiative which moves marginalized people with less critical needs from shelters into housing.

“While the city will continue to look into the evaluation of its homelessness services to ensure programs are oriented to the needs of clients and funds are being used efficiently, it is imperative that existing services are maintained,” states the letter to council.

The city is also offering to send city staff to a county council meeting to provide additional information to county staff if needed.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner