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Housing and shelter support sought for influx of refugees and Asylum seekers

Coun. Corrine Rahman and Mayor Josh Morgan are asking their city council colleagues to consider lobbying senior governments to help with an influx of refugees and asylum seekers.

They said the newcomers are putting additional pressure on an already stressed shelter system.

“We need to ensure that when we take people into the country that there is proper resources allocated so they can be helped all the way through the system, and it does not fall on the back of property tax payers, or put any additional strained resources and services,” said Morgan.

The mayor said the newcomers are often landing in larger centres like Toronto and Montreal, before finding their way into London, Ont.

Morgan and Rahman have sent a letter to the next meeting of council’s Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee (SPPC).

“Like other cities across Ontario, our shelters in London are dealing with unprecedented challenges, including an influx in Asylum claimants,” reads the letter. “These additional pressures on our shelters add to the bed shortage they experience everyday.”

According to the letter, Mission Services and the Cross Cultural Learners Centre (CCLC) have created a partnership to address the needs of Asylum seekers that arrive in London—but neither are adequately funded to do so.

To meet the settlement needs of those staying in the shelters, the partner agencies are pursuing funds from Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development to hire staff for settlement counselling, permanent housing, and job search support.

Rahman told CTV News, “It’s important that we understand the many pressures on shelters and services in our city. They do great work and they need the resources to do it.”

According to Tara Saunders, director of Development and Communications at Mission Services of London, on Oct. 23 of this year, 19 per cent of the clients staying at the Men’s Mission were refugees or asylum seekers, while this demographic accounted for 30 per cent at Rotholme Family Shelter.

The survey was conducted to show a snap-shot in time on a random day, but the numbers change daily, said Saunders.

“We need the wraparound services that others in the community have expertise with,” she said. “Settlement services, helping them access funds, and different translation services to help them navigate all of these different paths.”

Several requests are being made of city council:

  • City staff report back to council on the impacts of Asylum claimants on our local shelter system
  • Based on the findings from the staff report, city staff apply (if appropriate and necessary) for Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP) to address the impacts on local shelters
  • The mayor undertake immediate advocacy efforts with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the Ontario Big City Mayors Caucus, and senior governments to advocate for resources to address the influx in asylum claimants
  • The mayor write a letter on behalf of supporting the request by CCLC in collaboration with Mission Services for funding from the provincial government to hire staff to provide additional supports for Asylum claimants

London North Centre Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos told CTV news he’s open to discussing funding requests to support newcomers.

However, he’s also urging council to first get its homeless hubs plan sorted out.

Last week, a plan for a homeless hub on Fanshawe Park Road in north London was ditched.

“Unfortunately, a location in northwest London seems to… they’ve decided against it. How else can I put it? So we need to see from them action on that specific matter. I haven’t seen where council will go on this issue, and I worry that if we don’t get an answer, momentum for a good plan is impeded,” said Fragiskatos. Top Stories

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