For Immediate Release
March 29, 2001
Commissioner of Housing and Property, and General Manager of Peel Living
Region of Peel
905-453-1300, Ext. 2518
PEEL FIGHTS PARADOX OF PROSPERITY: HOMELESSNESS
(Brampton) - Significant progress has been made in the Region's continuum of supports strategy to reduce homelessness in Peel, according to a staff report presented to Regional Council's General Committee today. But, longer term inter-governmental and agency collaboration and private sector buy-in are required to effectively respond to the root causes of poverty and homelessness in Peel, the report concludes.
In 1999, Regional Council approved an organized series of recommendations designed as a continuum of supports approach to address homelessness, reduce barriers to service access and increase housing supply. The findings released today comprise the first annual report card on those initiatives.
"Families and children living in poverty and those who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, are on the rise in Peel," said Keith Ward, Commissioner of Housing and Property, Region of Peel and General Manager of Peel Living, the Region's non-profit housing corporation.
"Their plight comes from economic and policy-driven causes," Ward continued. "Growth and economic prosperity have led to rising house prices, prompting fewer moves and resulting in disturbingly low rental vacancy rates. Rents began to increase significantly after the province eased rent controls in 1998. Senior governments started getting out of the social housing business in 1992, and the private sector has not stepped into the breach."
Peel's vacancy rate was .6 per cent in 2000, a drop from .8 per cent in 1999 - and its lowest level since October 1988. A vacancy rate of 1 per cent means that for every 1,000 private apartment units, 10 units are vacant and available. The City of Mississauga dropped to .5 per cent in 2000 from .8 per cent in 1999. The City of Brampton remained unchanged at .7 per cent between 1999 and 2000.
The development picture is just as grim. Only 19 private rental units were constructed in Peel after 1995, until last year, when 60 high-end rental townhouses were completed in Mississauga.
"The needs of the homeless and those at risk are complex," said Bob Yamashita, co-ordinator of the Region's homeless initiatives. "We are helping individuals at the lowest ebb in their lives with diverse social, health and financial needs to regain some level of stability. As daunting as this is, we are seeing results with our multi-faceted supports approach. However, we need the province and the federal government to come on board for the long haul."
The Region's continuum of supports initiatives include support and outreach services, homeless shelters, plans for youth transitional housing and possibly additional permanent social housing. The Region built two homeless shelters in the Cities of Brampton and Mississauga in the last 12 months.
"Almost 40 per cent of our homeless shelter residents are employed," said David Szwarc, Interim Commissioner of the Region's Social Services. "In addition, emergency family shelters in Peel, and the Rosetown Inn, used by the Region as temporary shelter for homeless families, all reported significantly increased lengths of stay within a year's time. Peel lacks the affordable housing options needed not only for subsidized families, but for low-income families, as well."
The Region began operating an outreach program in 1999 to help individuals living in alleys, under bridges, temporarily in homeless and emergency family shelters, or at risk of becoming homeless in Peel, with their basic needs. Workers from Peel Health, Social Services, and Housing and Property departments and community agencies ensure those individuals have access to co-ordinated client-focused care plans. They also identify needs and service gaps. They assisted over 220 individuals in 2000.
"We are seeking $2.9 million from the Federal Government's Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative for homelessness initiatives over the next three years," said Yamashita. "A Community Partners Program, funded through the Region since 2000 and operated by three community agencies, has proven to be an important partner in the Region's continuum of supports plan."
"Eliminating homelessness by increasing housing options and providing much-needed social supports has multiple benefits to all Peel citizens," said Ward. "Quality of life increases for individuals and families when they are able to hold onto housing they can afford and get the supports they need to help them achieve some level of stability. The quicker we can make this happen, the lower the costs and the less likely the need for longer-term interventions down the road."
Region of Peel Homelessness Web Site
- 30 -Communication Services, 10 Peel Centre Dr., Brampton, ON L6T 4B9
Phone: 905-791-7800, Fax: 905-791-0595 , e-mail
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