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Task force members are volunteers passionate about the program that will provide a warm, safe place to sleep, a nutritious meal and access to hygiene and health supplies and services.
The lead organization, Community Connection, is a charity established in 1969 as a telephone counselling centre, clothing depot and volunteer registry. Today their Community Navigators connect people to services by offering information provision, needs assessment, advocacy, follow up and crisis intervention by telephone (24/7 through the national 211 helpline), online chat, text, email and walk-in assistance.
Why do we need an Out of The Cold program:
Out of The Cold Collingwood (OOTC) is a temporary overnight emergency winter shelter from November 2019 – April 2020 lead by the non-profit, accredited agency, Community Connection. It is more than overnight accommodation; rather a centralized and safe space where youth over 16 years, individuals and families with dependents experiencing homelessness will be connected to resources to go from homeless to sheltered to housed.
We are a collaborative response to a growing housing crisis in South Georgian Bay and nationally
- We have strong leadership using a collective impact model with a long-term, sustainable plan.
- Working within the Town of Collingwood, there is a strong desire for our town to be a leader for others. We are currently one of the only towns in Simcoe County who does not have an emergency shelter.
We help those most at risk from violence and/or exploitation by preventing the cycle of oppression
- We provide a centralized, safe space to assist people on their journey to a healthier life.
- We have professional programming with trained staff to provide an inclusive, compassionate environment.
- Our co-ordinated intake and referrals are designed to ensure people get the appropriate housing and service options available for their needs.
We promote people working together for the greater good
- We have an allied network of organizations and leaders collaborating to support and advance our collective efforts.
- We provide education to promote understanding and awareness of often hidden experiences.
The need is real. Between April 2018 and March 2019, through their 211 helpline, Community Connection responded to 409 calls from South Georgian Bay residents with urgent housing needs. Of these, 59 were experiencing homelessness. The need is growing. During April and June 2019, Community Connection responded to 288 calls from South Georgian Bay residents with urgent housing needs. Of these, 50 were experiencing homelessness.
We are working with community leaders to establish a permanent emergency shelter in Collingwood and expect this work will take up to three years.
Often people are working but not earning a living wage in order to maintain a normal standard of living. In Simcoe County, the living wage is calculated to be $18.01 per hour. People become homeless for lots of different reasons, a lack of affordable housing, are low income with no financial safety net, and/or life events such as landlord eviction, addictions or disability. No one plans to be homeless.
The hidden homeless are people who access accommodation but have no immediate prospect of permanent or stable housing. These are people paying more than they can afford in rent or are staying with family or friends — eventually, time runs out on the sustainability of these options. The result is an increasing homeless population living in their cars, in tents or improvised shacks and on the street.
How will the Out of The Cold program work?
Out of The Cold Collingwood is an emergency winter shelter that will operate overnight between November and April. We plan to operate the winter shelter until the permanent shelter is operational.
Shelter services will be for anyone – youth, couples, individuals and families.
We estimate there could be up to ten varying individuals at the shelter each night. Stays in the shelter are not expected to be long term, just until appropriate housing is found. Each person or family will be entered into our regional homeless case management system and connected with the most appropriate service provider who will work with them to secure housing. The information collected about shelter users will only be accessed by qualified homeless services organizations.
At least one shelter-trained, paid employee will always be on-site when the program is open. Staff will be supported by screened and trained volunteers. A Shelter Supervisor will be responsible for all program activities. Pre-established protocols will be in place with police and crisis services.
Example timeline of the nightly shelter schedule:
- 7:00 pm Clients are screened and assessed as they arrive, and case management services offered.
- 7:30 pm Clients will be served a warm meal and provided personal hygiene/health items as needed.
- 9:30 pm Lights out.
- 6:00 am Lights on.
- 7:00 am Shelter closes for the day.
What is the long term plan for homelessness?
Community Connection is the lead agency for funding, reporting and administration for the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness’ Housing First Coordination. Housing First is a recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing and then providing additional supports and services as needed.
Community Connection is also the lead agency for the funding, reporting and administration of the federal Reaching Home program objectives in the County of Simcoe. Reaching Home is Canada’s homelessness strategy and community-based programming aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness. Reaching Home provides funding to urban, Indigenous, rural and remote communities to reduce chronic homelessness nationally by 50% by March 2028.
The Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness is a coalition committed to ending homelessness. Through alignment with an ambitious national change effort and partnership with the County of Simcoe, the Alliance has established Built For Zero Simcoe County, a team of community leaders that are part of a national change effort to help communities end homelessness. Built For Zero is a structured, supportive and data-driven approach focused on creating a sense of urgency, optimizing local homeless systems, accelerating the adoption of proven practices and driving continuous improvement.