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325 people are homeless in Guelph, Wellington County: survey

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The latest Point-in-Time Count shows 325 people are homeless in the city of Guelph and Wellington County.

The survey was conducted over three days in Guelph and over a week in Wellington County at the end of April by the Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination and is meant to provide a snapshot of the homelessness situation in the community.

READ MORE: Point-in-time homeless count underway in Guelph this week

The coordinator of the task force, Randalin Ellery, said one of the more startling trends is the connection between foster care and homelessness.

“A significant percentage of those experiencing homelessness do have a history [of foster care], so 68 per cent, and that’s really high,” she said in a phone interview on Thursday.
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Ellery added 41 per cent of those surveyed said they immediately went from foster care to being homeless and mentioned the age of people first experiencing homelessness is another concern.

“Almost 50 per cent had that first experience before they hit 18,” she said.

About 100 volunteers conducted the survey around Guelph and Wellington County, along with various services agencies.

The last count was done in 2016 and showed 295 individuals were experiencing homelessness.

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“This is one tool that we have in understanding the homeless population in our community,” Ellery said. “I think the trends that really stick out around youth, particularly those with experiences in care, are going to propel action in our community.”

She said local youth service providers are already talking about better ways to support and provide resources to the homeless youth population.

Other concerning trends involved the role of addiction and mental illness, but Ellery said other factors included those who served jail time, conflict with family and barriers to finding housing.

READ MORE: Reality check: Liberals’ housing strategy doesn’t go far enough, advocates say

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“Rent being too high, having low income or no income assistance (are) the main barriers that people have to finding housing,” she said.

Counts such as this one are required by the Ministry of Housing across the province as part of the government’s effort to end chronic homeless by 2025.