30% more on homeless by-name list in Peterborough compared to 2021: staff report

Click to play video: 'Affordability, health issues continue to be barriers for homeless' Affordability, health issues continue to be barriers for homeless
A staff report being presented to city council Monday night will provide updates on Peterborough's homeless situation. It shows the number of people experiencing homelessness has increased from this time last year. Katrina Squazzin reports. – May 9, 2022

The number of people on the homeless by-name list (BNL) in Peterborough in 2022 is up 30 per cent compared to the same time in 2021, a new city staff report states.

A staff report says as of April 2022, there are 317 people are on the BNL — compared to 244 at the same time last year. A BNL features every person in the community (consent given) experiencing homelessness, updated in real time and profiles their history, health and housing needs.

Of the 317 individuals, 153 have been identified as being chronically homeless — those who have been homeless for more than 6 months in the last 12 months. The report also says 154 on the BNL (46 youth, 63 identified as Indigenous) have very high acuity levels, meaning their best housing solution is supportive housing (defined as funding from a senior government program).

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For the city’s homeless shelters in 2021, the report says 604 individuals accessed the system at least once.

Occupancy at the city’s shelters in 2021:

  • Brock Mission: average occupancy was 97 per cent — a decrease to 93 per cent in first quarter of 2022.
  • Cameron House: average occupancy was 87 per cent — unchanged in first quarter of 2022
  • Overflow shelters: average occupancy was 84 per cent — an increase to 90 per cent in first quarter of 2022.
  • YES Shelter:  average occupancy was 67 per cent — increase to 89 per cent in first quarter of 2022.

The report recommends city council approve $245,000 held in city reserves — representing 50 cent of the Peterborough Police Services’ 2020 surplus— be allocated to support the following projects:

  • $60,000 to the Peterborough Drug Strategy to purchase a mass spectrometer for use at the consumption treatment services (CTS) site on Simcoe St., along with training required to offer drug checking services in Peterborough.
  • $185,000 to the Canadian Mental Health Association — Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge to offer an additional mobile crisis intervention team staff for two years in collaboration with Social Services and the Peterborough Police Service. The program has been in operation since 2011 with one mental health worker partnering with one police officer.

“This proactive collaboration that would focus on reducing serious mental health incidents and further compounding crises,” states Sheldon Laidman, the city’s commissioner of community services. “Ultimately individuals involved in the program would experience better outcomes—moving from transactional intersections with service providers to offering longer-term solutions and engagement at the time of escalation.”

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Exiting homelessness

The report says last year, 251 people exited homelessness and secured housing. Of the 251, 35 per cent (87) were people who had experienced chronic homelessness. Comparatively, to date in 2022, the report says 94 people have exited homelessness and secured housing with 45 per cent (42 individuals) had experienced chronic homelessness.

Laidman notes to date in 2022, the city has secured 50 spots in supportive programs and 65 units dedicated to the by-name priority list.

“With more partnerships in the works,” he said.

Laidman also noted the city annually provides $1.34M to support 334 households with rent supplements — the result of former Housing Choice Program being brought into social services from the Housing Resource Centre. In 2021, the report says 1,1186 households received Housing Stability Funding from social services.In 2021, 93 households received a rent supplement directly from social services.

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The city also funds $1,580,000 in rent supplements through Peterborough Housing Corporation which supports 230 households, Laidman noted.

The city also provides funding to various nonprofit housing organizations and private landlords for 1,569 rent geared to Income (RGI) units and, 421 affordable units.

“In total the City is providing funding to support over 2,700 households with affordable housing which represents approximately five percent of all households in the City and County combined,” he said. “The figure for just the City of Peterborough would be considerably higher.”

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