Plans Move Forward For New Emergency Shelter System

In Community, Editor Choice, Local

Northumberland County continues to move forward with plans to implement a new emergency shelter system for the community, based on a 2017 review of County-funded homeless and re-housing services. The new system will be based on the Housing First model, with community partners focusing first and foremost on housing stabilization strategies for those in need to best ensure people never end up requiring emergency shelter services. In so doing, shelter services will be reserved for the most vulnerable individuals who are not able to independently resolve their own homelessness. Intensive supports will then be provided to these individuals with the goal of rapid rehousing. The County will be issuing a formal request for proposals from service providers within the coming weeks for the delivery of innovative shelter services for the community.

Title: Homelessness System Services Review
Prepared by: Ellen Armstrong, Community Services Manager
Reviewed by: Lisa Horne, Director Community and Social Services
Approved by: Jennifer Moore, CAO
Strategic Plan: Thriving and Inclusive Communities
Council Date: February 21, 2018
Recommendation
“Whereas Council of the County of Northumberland received Report No. 2018-09
Homelessness Service System Review;
Now Therefore Be It Resolved That this report is received for information.”
Purpose
To provide an update on Northumberland County’s plans to move forward and implement a
new emergency shelter system for our community. The County will be requesting proposals
from service providers for the delivery of innovative shelter services for Northumberland. This
updated shelter system will incorporate best practices for homelessness diversion, and it will
be based on the ‘Housing First’ model that now underpins all local inter-agency collaboration to
address homelessness.
Background
2017 Homelessness System Service Review
The Community and Social Services Department hired OrgCode in mid-2017 to complete an
operational review of the local housing and homelessness system of care to identify
successes, gaps and opportunities to enhance the impact of provincial Community
Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) and municipal investme
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OrgCode Consulting, Inc. is a subject matter expert in housing and homelessness. Their core
services include action-oriented research, data-informed analysis, robust facilitation and
program evaluation, and training and technical assistance. They are experts in evidence ‐
informed practices to end homelessness.
Consultations
OrgCode led the local process of completing the service review and final report. This process
included online questionnaires for service provider leaders and front line staff, interviews with
key community and department staff, focus groups and Persons with Lived Experience, and
analysis of data from funded organizations. The Report made recommendations for next steps
with County funded homelessness programs and priorities to meet the County’s goal of ending
chronic homelessness.
The Director and Community Services Manager were debriefed on the recommendations in
the final report on December 18, 2017.
Community Agencies who participated in the review were debriefed on the recommendations
in the final report on January 24th 2018 and on February 6th 2018.
The Report was framed around 3 main concepts with recommendations that align to each
main concept:
1. Service Delivery Excellence– Housing First orientation
2. Service Orientation– fidelity to evidence-based practices
3. Data Analysis and Performance Measures– local data
Given the recommendations found in the report it was determined by senior staff that the
sheltering services program would be put to an RFP seeking new and innovative solutions for
emergency shelter system that is aligned with the County’s vision of homelessness sheltering.
Legislative Authority/Risk Considerations
The County is a designated Service System Manager for the delivery of the Consolidated
Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) in Northumberland County.
The vision for the CHPI is the following:
A better coordinated and integrated service delivery system that is people-centered,
outcome-focused and reflects a Housing First approach to prevent, reduce and address
homelessness in communities across Ontario.
Consistent with Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy (LTAHS) and the Ontario
Housing Policy Statement, the CHPI has the following objectives:
 To enable Service Managers to better support a full range of services that aim to prevent,
reduce and address homelessness at the local level.
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 To facilitate the development of seamless support services programming to connect
individuals and families to community resources and assist households at risk of or
experiencing homelessness to obtain and retain affordable housing that is linked to
supports appropriate to their needs.
 To promote a culture of policy, planning and service delivery that is focused on an
outcome-based and people-centered approach, while recognizing the complexity of
homelessness and issues related to homelessness.
 To create and support opportunities for Service Managers to develop creative and
innovative approaches.
 To increase flexibility at the local level to prevent, reduce and address homelessness
The Service Manager is solely responsible for decisions about funding allocations and
ensuring that services reflect local need.
Risk Considerations
Increasing expectation by both the Federal and Provincial governments to modernize and
provide innovative sheltering services and the defining measurable impacts on people needing
sheltering services:
 The ability to provide emergency sheltering services under a Housing First model that
eliminates barriers to entry and service
 An increased focus on person-centered service and understanding of trauma-informed
practices
 An acknowledgement that sheltering is meant to provide a path to immediate access to
safe, secure and permanent housing quickly
 The ability to exercise choice and self-determination in housing location and type realizing
local availably and affordability
 Demonstrate we are meeting County obligations under the Provincial CHPI guidelines
which provides the majority of the funding for homelessness programming
Increased Accountability:
 To demonstrate effective use of funds and providing a foundational structure in terms of
homelessness needs and services in Northumberland County
 Improving data collection and system analysis to inform evidence based planning
 Potential to lose future funding opportunities unless demonstration of all foundational
pieces of the response system are operating effectively and align with Provincial Funding
requirements.
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Timing:
 Issuing at the top of 2018, provides the department an opportunity to move through the
RFP process early in the year with a goal of establishing a functioning program by the end
of quarter two, with options to phase in further improvements
Interim Strategy
The County has protocols in place for instances such as this, and County staff and community
partners are working together to ensure everyone in need of assistance will have access to the
resources they require.
Shelter:
 Best practice “Sheltering Diversion Strategies” document shared with all key members of
homelessness service community
 The department began funding the Salvation Army to rent 5 efficiency suites at local hotel
for one month to rehouse individuals with no other options
 The department is working with Cornerstone to focus on any homeless families that present
and require assistance. The County and Cornerstone are starting to develop an interim
strategy for a Family Homelessness Diversion Program
Case Management:
 Once relocated, individuals are assessed, supported and monitored to determine next
steps
 Key lead agencies provide wrap-around supports, intensive case management to
individuals and monitoring progress. These are Community and Social Services, FourCast,
Green Wood Coalition, and Northumberland Hills Hospital
 Community Services Coordinator acts as central point of contact and maintaining tracking
logs
 Regular teleconferences ensure all necessary financial and social supports are in place
and coordinated activities are being held
Food/Warming Centres/other resources:
 The faith community continues to be a key partner in providing food and food gift cards
 Cobourg Police Services continued to operate their Warming Room that also has food
vouchers, showers and washroom facilities, lockers, and clothing as well as connections
into coordinated case management and assessment processes
 Food 4 All will provide food supports that can be made and kept in hotels
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Communications:
 Information on local resources collated by faith community and Health Unit is available for
distribution to all agencies
 Information about Warming Spaces and Food Programs widely distributed
 Media release from County to include organizations’ contact information once obtained
Follow up meetings with key community partners continue to occur on a regular basis. These
meetings have focused on:
 assessing access and entry points into the interim system
 designing a system response to ensure that the collaboration of multiple agencies is
effective and that everyone understands their role
 discussing additional financial and personnel resources needed to stabilize the interim
response
 solidifying interim service path and identifying lead agencies
 increasing capacity across the system to recognize that Homelessness Prevention and
Shelter Diversion are necessary first steps
Discussion/Options
Current opportunities presented by this report include:
 Ensuring thorough community engagement, professional development, the development of
a system framework, and the use of common assessment tools that all community services
assisting individuals who are experiencing homelessness are aligned with common vision,
client-centered approach, and evidence-based tools
 Pacing the change in orientation and shift in service delivery over a 5 year time frame to
build a responsive and effective homelessness service system
 Driving the change through County leadership with strong messaging that recognizes that
as the funder and system leader we instruct agencies about what the results and
behaviours will be with the funding that is provided
 Building in a one year review that asks the question about how these changes have had an
impact on policies and procedures throughout the organization of funded agencies
Building a Housing First Model
“Housing First is a recovery-oriented approach to homelessness that involves moving people
who experience homelessness into independent and permanent housing as quickly as
possible, with no preconditions, and then providing them with additional services and supports
as needed. The underlying principle of Housing First is that people are more successful in
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moving forward with their lives if they are first housed. This is as true for homeless people and
those with mental health and an addiction issue as it is for anyone.”
Source: Stephen Gaetz, Fiona Scott & Tanya Gulliver (Eds.) (2013): Housing First in Canada: Supporting Communities to End
Homelessness. Toronto: Canadian Homelessness Research Network Press.
Financial Impact
The County’s approved budget for homelessness services for emergency sheltering for 2018 is
$265,000 annually.
It is also anticipated that there will be measurable financial impacts to the County in terms of
social return on investment and improved long term outcomes for the community.
Funding Implications ongoing
The Department has been working closely with community partners to begin to build an
effective and connected system response for homelessness. Of note in the Review is a local
deficit of Intensive Case Management staff and Rapid Rehousing Workers across the County.
In building an effective system response opportunities for funding and resources could be
accessed to enhance the ability to build and fund the right services through the County’s 10
Year Housing and Homelessness Plan, the 20,000 Homes Report recommendations and the
new System Review.
Member Municipality Impacts
Homelessness Services are intended to serve the entire community so this will impact
residents throughout Northumberland County.
Conclusion/Outcomes
Emergency shelters provide a critical landing place for people in our community who are
experiencing a housing crisis. Modernizing our emergency shelter system is another important
step in delivering on our community’s commitment to achieve meaningful outcomes for
individuals and families across the entire spectrum of homelessness.
Attachments
Homelessness Service System Power Point Presentation

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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