Following the Provincial announcement in March of Social Services Relief funding to support community response to COVID-19, Northumberland County Council received an update from staff today outlining how these funds are being used to protect the health and safety of vulnerable populations during this health emergency. In addition to sustaining operation of the emergency homelessness shelter established at Cobourg Collegiate Institute during the pandemic, this investment is also supporting a range of homelessness prevention measures in the community that reinforce a coordinated response.
“We thank the Province for this investment,” states Community & Social Services Director Lisa Horne. “Homelessness system partners have acted quickly to ensure supports are in place to respond to community needs during this unprecedented period. Social Services Relief funding has reinforced these efforts, supporting immediate shelter system relief measures in Northumberland, along with housing and outreach services, and planning for transition back to standard operations post-pandemic. This funding has provided important flexibility to create local solutions that address local challenges.”
The Social Services Relief Fund makes $148 million available to communities to reinforce emergency housing and shelter system services and supports in response to the global pandemic. As the local Service Manager for Social Services, Northumberland County Community & Social Services received $1,397,700 in one-time funding. Together with homelessness system partners, the County has since codesigned a three-pronged plan for this funding to deliver the greatest impact for people in need in Northumberland. Structured to ensure alignment with provincial guidelines for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, these prongs include:
· Emergency Shelter: $638,527 for temporary emergency shelter operations, including staffing, food and facilities management, along with quarantine and shelter overflow contingency planning. This also includes allocation for costs related to wrap-up of operations at the temporary shelter post-pandemic.
· Housing Supports: $427,103 for transitional housing accommodations, and homelessness outreach support and diversion programming.
· Outreach and Support Services: $332,070 for peer support programming, food security initiatives, and pandemic sustainability funding for non-profit housing.
The Social Services Relief Fund also directs provincial funding to the Ontario Works program to provide emergency financial assistance for individuals or families in immediate financial crisis. To inquire about emergency assistance, residents can contact Northumberland County Community & Social Services at 1-800-354-7051.
“We are doing our part to show the Ontario spirit and to ensure no one gets left behind,” says Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini. “Partners like Northumberland County Community & Social Services are doing critical work right now to help the most vulnerable Ontarians in our community during these difficult times. These provincial funds help ensure we are able to respond quickly to local needs, to protect and serve our most vulnerable populations, and support long-term measures that will boost our collaborative and coordinated response to homelessness. The plan for these funds have been well thought out by Social Services staff and system partners, and really focus on creating sustainable local solutions.”
“With this global pandemic requiring that we adapt our approaches to delivering the services on which residents rely, this allocation from the Province has been vital to support the critical work of our Social Services staff and system partners in responding to the needs of at-risk community members during COVID-19,” states County Warden Bob Sanderson. “The health and well-being of all Northumberland residents remains our top priority. We appreciate the Province’s partnership in ensuring supports are place to protect vulnerable populations during this unprecedented period.”