Homelessness continues to be a growing issue in Windsor

CKTB - NEWS - Homelessness

Homelessness in Windsor has been on a steady rise for the past three years, with the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbating the problem.

According to a report presented to the Community Services and Parks Standing Committee on Wednesday, since 2018 there's been a 27 per cent increase in its homeless population.

Councillor Joanne Gignac hopes the data will help show the higher levels of government the need for more funds to be dedicated to help solve the issue.

"Hopefully, and I'm saying hopefully because this has been an issue for a very long time for me, this data is going to clearly paint the needs of municipalities with our funding partners to make some meaningful changes here," Gignac stated

The report was based off a Point in Time count which was completed over a 24-hour period in March, showing a serious rise in chronic homelessness locally.

Some of the details from those surveyed during the count include that 63 per cent of adults identified a mental health condition, and one in 10 adults said COVID-19 led to their homelessness.

Councillor Rino Bertolin says this is a healthcare issue as much as anything else, and other levels of government need to wake up and realize that homelessness is a crisis in Windsor and across the country.

"When we have issues that come up, COVID-19, we proved that we can work quickly and in an emergency. This is something that we need to do and we need to get on from other levels of government. They need to wake up and realize that this is an emergency and that the money needs to flow for mental health and addictions now for us to make any dent in these numbers," Bertolin said.

Councillor Kieran McKenzie says there needs to be affordable housing, accessible housing and supportive housing programs in place to help people get a leg up on the problem. 

"There's a significant amount of funds being dedicated to these issues, the effectiveness of it I think frankly can be debated," McKenzie continued. "But what we see here in this report is a way for us to ensure that the dollars that will be spent or that could be spent can be effective in terms of addressing the issues that we all very desperately I think want to improve upon in our communities."

The Community Services and Parks Standing Committee voted unanimously to receive the Windsor Essex 2021 Homelessness Enumeration Report as information.

The report recommends more money from upper levels of government to address the crisis, to acknowledge that homelessness is a crisis and provide more funds for housing and homelessness programs, as well as making investments in mental health and addiction services.