$1.6 million investment aimed to help Barrie's homeless transition out of hotel shelter

At Monday's meeting, Barrie city council put pressure on the County of Simcoe to help buy time to house the city's homeless, and less than 24 hours later, the two sides shook on it.

Nearly 100 people would have nowhere to turn when the hotel-model extension ends on July 15, so council agreed to invest $400,000 from city reserves and urged the County to do the same.

Ultimately, $1.6 million was put forth to house those living at a Barrie hotel a little longer while local partners help them find alternate accommodations.

The funding will focus on mental health, on-site addiction support and emergency shelter assistance.

Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said most people in the hotel shelter had been discharged from the hospital or are chronically homeless.

"To be frank, the cost of not helping them is much greater in terms of hospital care and emergency services. But fundamentally, this isn't about cost. It's about people who need help, and the transitional funding will allow them to move out of this expensive hotel model and hopefully into this next step of a longer-term solution."

A petition with 175 signatures was presented to councillors and asked the provincial and federal governments to join and help fund the County and City of Barrie's homeless hotel model, which it helped kick-start during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The petition also calls for all levels of government to create a plan to ensure permanent subsidized housing is available in the future.