Homeless count completed in C-K

·2 min read

The homelessness problem in Chatham-Kent continues to mount, with numbers more than doubling since the last point-in-time count in 2018.

According to a provincially mandated enumeration held on Oct. 19, 171 people identified as homeless on that day.

Polly Smith, director of employment and social services for the municipality, said the pandemic threw Chatham-Kent further into an existing homelessness crisis pushing a system that was already under pressure.

What is happening is similar to cities and towns across Ontario, Smith said, adding the homelessness problem has increased 144 per cent since the last count.

Smith said a report on the issue will be presented to council before the end of the year, and public meetings seeking solutions to the problem will also be held.

Employment and Social service program manager Josh Myers said solving the complex problem will require a community response.

“No one agency, community group or neighbourhood can solve this on their own,” Myers said in a media statement.

The municipality has worked to find emergency placements, as well as long-term solutions to homeless residents, helping more than 400 households since the start of the pandemic.

Quick Facts from Oct. 19:

• 18 people spent the night outdoors

• 30 people spent the night at someone else’s place

• 79 people reported being homeless for more than six months

• 34 people identified as First Nation or Metis

• 50 people were facing health challenges

• The majority of respondents say cost of housing is the greatest barrier they face

• The average market rent for a one-bedroom unit is $1,050 per month, which does not include utilities.

• The wait list for a one-bedroom unit in social housing is five years.

The enumeration was conducted in partnership with a wide range of community partners throughout the municipality.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice

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