City asked to kick in $200Gs for Liv­ing Space

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - LEN GIL­LIS

City coun­cil has been asked to do­nate $200,000 in sup­port of the cre­ation of Liv­ing Space, a new ini­tia­tive aimed at help­ing the home­less in Tim­mins.

The idea was put for­ward at this week’s coun­cil meet­ing by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion (CMHA) Cochrane Temiskam­ing Branch, who want to set up an op­er­a­tions fa­cil­ity, tran­si­tional hous­ing and a warm­ing cen­tre at 25 Cedar St. N.

Cather­ine Simunovic, the pres­i­dent of the CMHA board, told coun­cil that Liv­ing Space is also the con­cept name given to a part­ner­ship of 11 or­ga­ni­za­tions, who she said are pas­sion­ately com­mit­ted to end­ing the chronic home­less­ness prob­lem in Tim­mins.

“We are here to­day to ask the city of Tim­mins to in­vest in this part­ner­ship. We are ask­ing for $200,000 to be used for ren­o­va­tions to an ex­ist­ing build­ing, as well for the op­er­a­tions, specif­i­cally rent-loss mit­i­ga­tion and pro­vid­ing qual­ity train­ing to our vol­un­teers,” said Si­monu­vic.

She added that Tim­mins is the only re­gional city in North­ern On­tario that does not have a warm­ing cen­tre, where home­less per­sons can drop in.

“You can ap­pre­ci­ate that it is very much needed in our com­mu­nity, when we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing tem­per­a­tures in the mi­nuses in the evenings, know­ing that will only get colder and colder as we ap­proach the win­ter months,” said Simunovic.

Also speak­ing to the is­sue was CMHA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Clark Macfar­lane, who made ref­er­ence to a 2011 study car­ried out by Lau­ren­tian Univer­sity which iden­ti­fied 720 in­di­vid­u­als in Tim­mins as home­less.

Macfar­lane said the num­ber is out of date and there were many peo­ple who were not in­cluded in the study.

“So what we can say with great con­fi­dence, there are more than 720 home­less peo­ple in Tim­mins,” said Macfar­lane.

“Cur­rently we have 3000 house­holds, or 16 % reg­is­tered with the food bank. That is a sig­nif­i­cant stat to pro­vide you.

“If you are in a sit­u­a­tion where you are hav­ing dif­fi­culty putting food on the ta­ble, chances are you are hav­ing dif­fi­culty main­tain­ing your hous­ing and you are pre­car­i­ously housed. So those peo­ple rep­re­sent peo­ple who could be­come home­less in the near fu­ture.”

as part of the dis­cus­sion that fol­lowed, coun. Pat bam­ford ques­tioned why coun­cil would be asked to spend $200,000 on a so­cial as­sis­tance ini­tia­tive, which is a pro­vin­cial ju­ris­dic­tion.

bam­ford asked if the Good sa­mar­i­tan inn was not filling the need for the home­less.

“No, i would say not,” said Macfar­lane. “the warm­ing shel­ter is a place you can stay just for the night. and so peo­ple come for the night. they have a safe and warm place to stay and then they move on.”

bam­ford also ques­tioned why the cochrane district so­cial ser­vices ad­min­is­tra­tion board (dssab) wouldn’t be look­ing af­ter this since it has a so­cial hous­ing man­date.

Mayor steve black re­marked that cdssab pro­vides op­er­a­tional funds, but that lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are ex­pected to pro­vide cap­i­tal fund­ing.

Most mem­bers of coun­cil voiced sup­port for the idea of one-time fund­ing for the warm­ing cen­tre which would also be a year-round ser­vice hub for the home­less.

the is­sue will be re­turned to the coun­cil ta­ble at the Oct. 24 meet­ing when coun­cil will be asked to vote on a res­o­lu­tion to for­mally ap­proved al­lo­ca­tion of fund­ing.

LEN GIL­LIS/TIM­MINS DAILY PRESS/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Cather­ine Simunovic and Clark Macfar­lane, rep­re­sent­ing the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion (CMHA) Cochrane Temiskam­ing Branch, have asked city coun­cil for a one-time $200,000 grant to help pro­vide start-up money for the cre­ation of Liv­ing Space, a new warm­ing shel­ter and op­er­a­tions hub for the home­less in Tim­mins.

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