Kingston city council hopes for provincial funding to combat homelessness

Integrated care hub and a shopping cart filled with a homeless person's items. Global Kingston

The city of Kingston says it can’t afford to help the “unhoused population” on its own, and that’s one reason why council declared a “mental health and addictions crisis” this week.

Council is asking the province for more funding, saying it has already spent over $18 million in the last two years on shelter and support services.

“We don’t have provincial funding now coming from the pandemic, so how are we going to address those needs?” asked  Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson.

An emergency fund set up by the province during the pandemic is set to expire in April.

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Some of that money built the Integrated Care Hub in 2021 and opened 60 more shelter beds. The mayor says the crisis demands “more.”

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“I think we need a treatment facility. I’ve heard that from so many people that are on the front lines,” Paterson said.

Paterson said the city needs detox beds, treatment options, and outreach workers — all healthcare initiatives that will need provincial funding.

“We can certainly use the facility,” said health policy expert Candice Christmas. “Trying to get people out of a state of survival when they’ve been street involved for quite some time is going to require more than a treatment facility,”

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MPP Ted Hsu agreed that the provincial government should be stepping up, and pointed to another underlying cause: a lack of affordable housing.

“I think that this crisis will be resolved sooner if we build more affordable housing faster,” Hsu said.

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Meantime, the city will spend another $150,000 for garbage removal and better security at the encampment around the Integrated Care Hub over the next two months while it waits for a response from the province.

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