By failing to fund this prevention program, much of the fallout will simply default to levy funded services such as Police and Emergency Services as well as impact the Ontario Works case load as youth spend a longer time in the system.
By Brother Richard MacPhee
Published December 10, 2015
This open letter was written to Hamilton City Council to request $230,000 in bridge funding for for Good Shepherd Notre Dame Community Resource Centre. At the December 9 City Council meeting, Council voted against the request.
I write this open letter in an effort to have you reconsider this matter which was dealt with at the December 8 Emergency and Community Services Committee meeting.
The Notre Dame Community Resource Centre is the primary homelessness prevention program for Youth in this community. I would like to point out the key role this program plays in this community:
We saw 303 unique individual youth in the CRC last year.
Of these 303 youth, 218 received intensive care coordination which meant more than 4 referrals to housing, Mental Health services, addiction programs, schools, etc.
We see on average 90 youth daily, who come to us for meals and other supports to stay housed in the community. Many youth who live in the community eat 2 meals a day at Notre Dame due to a lack of resources.
Some 165 youth were diverted from using the Notre Dame Emergency Shelter or from living on the streets. Where appropriate, they returned home or found suitable housing in the community.
As well, some 481 cases required the intervention of our Youth Substance Use Program. As a result, only 2 required EMS to take them to the Emergency Room and the remaining 479 were diverted and cared for by on-site clinicians.
I appreciate that there may be some confusion about this request which originated before and was entirely separate from the report prepared by staff relating to pressures on the Shelter system. Significantly, staff recommended that a program that would similarly divert people from the Family Shelter be funded.
At Committee, I think the biggest concern raised was the potential impact on the municipal levy. I too appreciate this concern but wish to point out that by failing to fund this prevention program, much of the fallout will simply default to levy funded services such as Police and Emergency Services as well as impact the Ontario Works case load as youth spend a longer time in the system.
Further, visible street homelessness will also increase with its associated issues.
Unfortunately, the consequences are not just short-term as youth who are not diverted now stand a far greater risk of not only remaining homeless longer, but will become tomorrow's next generation of adult homeless, further increasing the pressures on that already overtaxed system.
As well, the impact is likely even greater on systems funded by the senior levels of government, who also need to be held accountable. We have met with some success on this front but greater support is needed from the Provincial and Federal governments.
I must add that it was our expectation that this issue would have been addressed through a review of the entire Youth Homelessness system which was to have been completed this year. Unfortunately, it will not be completed until the next fiscal year. As a result, the community is in danger of losing an existing service only to find out that it is an important feature of reducing homelessness in Hamilton.
This is why I am requesting that you request staff to find the $230,000 for this current fiscal year and make it part of the budget consideration for next year. As part of this request, I commit Good Shepherd to support the efforts of the City to receive much needed additional funding from the Province and the Federal governments in order to eliminate homelessness which is largely preventable.
On behalf of Hamilton's youth, I want to thank you for considering this request.
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