Progress report: More work needed to get London's homeless off the streets
LONDON, Ont. - Front-line social workers say about 200 people are living on London, Ont. streets.
Six months after city hall invested over a million dollars in an initiative called "Informed Response," the program to address urban encampments is preparing to report its progress.
“Jamie-Lee” ended up back on the streets after losing a place to live on Friday, "There is no place for us homeless people to go. We need somewhere to be.”
Last year city hall launched the “Informed Response” pilot project, and in March city council provided $1.25 million to extend the pilot until next year.
It sees social workers, city hall, London police and other agencies work collaboratively to, in a compassionate way, guide people into housing programs.
Six months after the funding extension, CTV News asked city hall’s manager of homeless prevention, Craig Cooper, if it’s bringing down the number of people experiencing homelessness.
"It is going up from previous years, we are working to get ahead of that, housing people who want to be housed. We are housing people but not at the rate that is ideal for us.”
Cooper adds the homelessness crisis in London faces a looming deadline – winter.
"I think as we start to get the colder weather people will present and say, okay I'm ready for housing now, so we need to be ready for when that happens.”
London Cares has doubled the number of social worker teams who engage with Londoners experiencing homelessness.
The trust that's built can eventually get people to connect with housing programs according to outreach manager Chantelle McDonald.
"We meet people where they are at and decide from their choices what work we are going to do and plan with them. Our ultimate goal for everyone is to be housed.”
City hall is going to be including Informed Response as part of its next multi-year budget.
Cooper has prepared the funding request, "It was $1.25 million for nine months this year, we have kept it fairly consistent with slight increases each year. This isn't something we want to see at this volume forever.”
Jamie-Lee believes the program will benefit from more time, “There's a lot more care and respect, more patience for us. It takes time for things to happen.”
A detailed report on the program's effectiveness will be presented to city council in October.