City Works to Combat Homelessness

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The Executive Director of the Downtown Mission is pleased that city council has received a 10-year Housing and Homelessness Master Plan.

"This is Windsor Ontario, the greatest country in the world, we can do better and I'm glad to hear that we're taking steps to move in that direction," says Ron Dunn.

He says a lot can change in 10-years but he's glad there's a plan in place and adds that a lot of work is underway already and his staff will continue to work with the city to move forward.

Meanwhile, Mayor Drew Dilkens says the issue is very complex and he adds there are reasons many of the city's homeless are in the position they are.

"A lot of it relates to alcoholism, drug addiction, or mental health issues, and those solutions to fix those types of problems really rely on the provincial government or the federal government to come forward with funding to open up more spaces, more treatment and addiction treatment services."

According to Dunn, the Downtown Mission has 103 of the 140 beds in the city's emergency shelter system, leaving them over-capacity on most nights.

"Certainly there are no bigger issues facing our city than the affordable housing crisis, the opioid crisis, and the mental health crisis, and as I've said, the Downtown Mission is ground zero for all three of those," he says.

Despite the fact that there is a major problem, Mayor Dilkens says unfortunately this isn't something the city funds under the constitution or even had enough money to fund

"I think myself and every member of city council wants to help people who want to help themselves," says Dilkens. "We don't want to see anyone living on the street."

Dunn adds that he fully supports the city's 10-year plan and it’s about baby steps.

"We can't ignore this problem, we can't wish it to go away, we can't say it's budgetary restraint," he says. "Our citizens are in trouble and everybody around this table said the word 'crisis' and I think we need to remind them always that we are in crisis."

Goals in the plan include expanding the city's social and affordable housing supply and working with Indigenous organizations to create and retain Indigenous led affordable housing.

While the plan was received, council has requested another report that better outlines timelines for the strategy.

More than 70 community partners gave input on the current plan.

In Windsor, 6,500 households are spending more than half of their income on rent, with an estimated 170 homeless people each night.

 

— with files from AM800's Zander Broeckel and The Morning Drive