Municipality receives nearly $1.7 million for the homeless

·2 min read

Homeless shelters are set to receive an upgrade in Chatham-Kent.

The Ontario government is providing the Municipality of Chatham-Kent nearly $1.7 million to protect homeless shelter staff, residents and help prevent more people from becoming homeless.

According to the province, municipalities can use the funding to acquire motel and hotel spaces to support physical distancing of shelter residents, hire more shelter staff, buy personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

According to Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nichols, as numbers begin to increase in some emergency shelters, it is important to help vulnerable people with the funding support they need. He added this would sequentially aid in reducing the curve amongst other populations.

“As the weather is still below zero on some nights, it is important to keep our vulnerable citizens who rely on shelters to stay warm and COVID free,” said Nichols.

This is the fourth installment of the Social Services Relief Fund the municipality has received. The province has contributed more than $5 million to Chatham-Kent since the fund launched last year.

“In times of crisis, it’s important we continue to look out for the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton. “This funding will ensure Chatham-Kent has the resources needed for the final push to defeat COVID-19 while supporting those at risk of being left behind.”

Ontario has provided a total of $765 million to help municipalities support shelters, create longer-term housing solutions, and help vulnerable Ontarians affected by COVID-19, including those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said the government is once again taking immediate action to save lives by responding to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in some emergency shelters across the province.

“This investment will ensure our municipal service managers can keep vulnerable people and shelter workers safe by providing them with the financial ability to take any means necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 in shelter spaces,” said Clark.

Don Shropshire, Chief Administrative Officer, said there are normally about 75 homeless individuals in any given year.

“With the onset of COVID, a number of people that were staying with family and friends were requested to move out of those accommodations and onto the street,” he said during a teleconference in November. “Our visible homeless population has increased to over 300 people this past year as a direct result of COVID.

Anyone experiencing homelessness in Chatham-Kent, or is in danger of homelessness, can call employment and social services at 519-351-8573.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News