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London’s first five homeless hubs should be outside core area: city councillor

Will neighbourhoods across the city welcome service hubs for homeless Londoners, or will they be centralized in the core business districts?

A political push is underway to ensure London, Ont.’s much anticipated response to the homelessness crisis actually involves the whole community.

At a meeting with city staff this week, Councillor Susan Stevenson wanted to ensure that the 12 to 15 service hubs proposed in the Whole of Community Response to Homelessness will be distributed throughout London.

“I did make the request that none of the first five [hubs] be in the core area, and I was unable to get that commitment [from staff],” Councillor Stevenson told CTV News.

She represents Ward 4, which includes the Old East Village (OEV).

Stevenson referred to SafeSpace London’s recent relocation near Ark Aid Street Mission, Unity Project, and other agencies as the kind of centralization that should be avoided with the rollout of hubs.

“There clearly is an over-saturation in the core,” she explained. “I would really like to see the first five hubs outside of the core area.”

Some frustrated OEV business owners agree that the response should be citywide.

The owner of Mystic Bookshop, Mary Beechie said it’s not the homelessness that concerns her… it’s the crime, “We see open drug use, we see trash, paraphernalia.”

Next door at the Wisdom Tea Shop and Cafe, owner TaraLee Sanderson is disheartened by the daily challenges caused by drug use and crime, “It’s frustrating to have to deal with people trying to break into your shop.”

Beechie is worried that the city’s rush to open five service hubs by the end of the year will leave little time for meaningful public input.

“We’ll have no input on how many of these hubs are coming into our neighbourhood,” she explained. “I know that we’re being sacrificed as a neighbourhood so that the [higher-income] neighbourhoods don’t have to deal with this crime.”

Councillor Stevenson added, “They have a reason to be concerned. I haven’t heard anything about it where [the hubs] are going to be, what the process is.”

On Tuesday, city staff told council that the hubs have not yet been designed, but there is urgency to determine the services, service standards, funding, and locations.

Sanderson believes the future of her teashop in the OEV is riding on the city’s strategy, “I have compassion for the situation, but at the same time if I don’t make money for my business— I’ll be in the same situation.” Top Stories

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