The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is set work with “Ontario’s largest developer of supportive affordable housing” to help address the need in the community.
At their Monday, December 14, 2020 electronic meeting, Council unanimously voted in favour of entering into a service agreement with Indwell, for one-time funding in the amount of $100,000, towards a local Indwell project manager position to support the implementation and execution of an Indwell supportive affordable housing development.
Council approved to continue supporting municipal staff efforts to engage, mobilize and realign local, provincial and federal health and housing related funding opportunities to better address homelessness affordable supportive housing service gaps and to end chronic homelessness.
“Supportive housing combines rental or housing assistance with individualized, flexible, and voluntary support services for people with high needs related to physical or mental health, developmental disabilities, or substance use,” said Chantal Perry, program manager for employment and social services, in a staff report.
“It has proven to be an effective long-term, cost effective housing solution for chronically homeless individuals with high acuity, and individuals with varying levels of mental health and substance abuse disorders that are not stably housed.”
Perry said Chatham-Kent has experienced an 88% increase in homelessness, including a 67% increase in chronic homelessness since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over 70% of emergency shelter service users have been assessed as being high acuity, meaning they require high levels of housing support services to remain successfully housed,” Perry said.
“Over 50% have concurrent mental health and substance use disorders.”
Perry said Indwell is a Christian organization with a mission ‘to create affordable housing communities that support people seeking health, wellness and belonging.’
“They currently have housing projects in four Ontario municipalities and have eight new builds in various stages of development, including: London, Waterloo, Peel, Hamilton and Simcoe,” Perry said in her report.
“Supporting over 600 people in 570 households, their housing options cater to a mix of incomes, household configurations, abilities, and support stage-of-life needs in a mix of tenure types. Ongoing support services are based on community need assessments, and range from low, moderate to high levels of support services.
Perry added: “Indwell is working with communities to complete intake and support service prioritization through healthcare and homelessness prevention/housing waitlist referral streams. Development costs include a mix of federal, provincial, municipal and local community fundraising funding co-investment components. Indwell is recognized as a health service provider through Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and ongoing support service programming costs are funded primarily by realigning existing provincial healthcare funding streams.”
A primary gap identified in Chatham-Kent’s Community Housing and Homelessness Plan is a lack of supportive housing, health care interventions, and long-term care support services for mid to high need individuals, Perry said.
“Indwell could assist in bridging the gap between homelessness and healthcare funded support services locally, while providing urgently needed affordable housing,” Perry said in her report.
“The provision of one-time funding to support a local Indwell project manager position would build capacity and enhance the development of affordable supportive housing locally. It would enable Neighbourlink, a local volunteer based support organization, to mobilize fundraising efforts to sustain the position after the initial municipal investment.”
Perry said without the municipal investment, approved on Monday by Council, the actualization of significant new affordable housing development in Chatham-Kent is unlikely to occur or will be significantly hindered and delayed without dedicated project management resources.
“With effective local project management, advocacy and leveraging of federal, provincial co-investment opportunities, Indwell represents a viable strategic option for increasing long-term affordable supportive housing to Chatham-Kent residents and a cost efficient solution to ending chronic homelessness locally,” Perry added.
To read Perry’s full report, and to view the slide deck from Indwell, click here.