Homelessness in Belleville – statistics & action timeline

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| Published , updated March 13, 2024

Point-in-time counts

A Point-in-Time (PiT) Count is a count of the number of people experiencing homelessness in a community within a 24-hour period.

Hastings County – Built for Zero Report Card

The provincial government is primarily responsible for funding homelessness programs in Ontario, Hastings County is responsible for delivering funding and programs locally

  • Funding: The provincial government is primarily responsible for funding homelessness programs (68% of all funding in 2021, with municipalities providing 23% and federal government providing 9%), and primarily responsible for funding and delivery healthcare, including mental health (78% of all funding).
  • Delivery: The administration and organization of housing and homelessness-related services is a local responsibility, primarily through municipalities. The 47 Service Managers 2 Indigenous Program Administrators provide some services directly, but transfer the majority of provincial funding to third parties to actually deliver/provide services and supports locally.

Hastings County is Belleville’s Service Manager.

Hastings County & Belleville goals and metrics

Draft goals and metrics for ending homelessness were presented and discussed by the group during the 2023 Homelessness Summit:

Aim TargetMeasurement
Confirming and sustaining a reliable By-Name ListBy-Name List data reliability within a 5% error margin
Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) Confirmation of a quality By-Name List
Improved information sharing and reporting of homelessness dataBy-Name List data shared with the community in a quarterly infographic report
Annual provincial and federal data reporting
Improved Coordinated Access System development (including expansion of health and justice partners)Increased number of participating community homeless-serving partners (including health and justice service referral partners)
Increased community connection and access points to the By-Name List
CAEH confirmation of a quality Coordinated Access System
Complete a housing/homelessness resource needs-gap analysis; use it for provincial and federal funding advocacy effortsCompleted housing/homelessness resource needs-gap assessment that identifies housing resources required based on By-Name List homeless population characteristics
Documented provincial and federal advocacy efforts
Increase in provincial and federal funding investments
Expanded transitional housing units and housing allowances to support housing affordabilityIncreased numbers of transitional housing units
Increased number of housing allowances
Reduce chronic homelessness by 25% by March 2027Reduced number of chronically homeless households on the By-Name List
Reduced number of chronically homeless households captured in community Point-in-Time Counts
End veteran homelessness (reach Functional Zero) by April 2025Three or less homeless veterans on the By-Name List
A sustainable Coordinated Access Homeless Servicing System that can house a homeless veteran within 30 days

Councillor statements relating to homelessness

I’ve read many times online that you know because we have a shelter, and we have a transition home, that these individuals are being bussed into our area. That’s an easy way to wash our hands of the problem and say well, gee, if we just stop that from happening we won’t have this problem in our community. That’s not the truth.

I spend a lot of time as we all do looking at other communities. There’s not a community in this province, not a community in this country, that isn’t experiencing affordability, food insecurity issues, and homelessness.

I think it’s important to point out that just because you’re homeless, you’re not mentally ill. Just because you’re homeless, you’re not a drug addict, and just because you’re homeless, you’re not a criminal. I think we have to take away those type of categories and labels. These are our friends, these are our neighbors, these are our residents in our community that may be going to work every day, and don’t have the ability to pay for rent, or their mortgage payment, and food.

Councillor Paul Carr on The Hub

Homelessness Summit Aims Feedback Survey results

As part of the City of Belleville’s Homelessness Summit, members of the public were invited to provide their feedback on the draft aims of Belleville’s four-year Community Homelessness Action Plan vision. Here are the results of the Homelessness Summit Aims Feedback Survey.

1. Please rank/prioritize the aims in terms of priority for the community (1 being most important/highest priority and 7 being least important/lowest priority).

  • Highest priority: Expanded transitional housing units and housing allowances to support housing affordability.
  • Lowest priority: Confirming and sustaining a reliable By-Name List.

2. What do these aims address about the homelessness needs that exist locally?

  • Quality by-name list – demographics of the list identify priority/target populations.
  • Should Increase access to list to have more agencies referring.
  • By-name list and coordinated access are key to addressing the gaps and needs in the community and obtaining reliable data. This drives system change to better serve vulnerable communities identified in the list.
  • Homelessness people who haven’t consented to be on the by-name list. Also educates people about the homelessness issue and informs people about successes.
  • Baseline/trend data, increases transitional housing stock/inventory.
  • Ability to track trend reliable data, offers opportunities to free emergency shelter with transition and minimizes recidivism.
  • Inter-professional and inter-organizations teams, and supportive housing.
  • People living with mental illness getting proper mental health care rather then cycling around the justice system consistently because the root problem of mental health was never addressed.
  • Nothing. Hastings County and the homelessness prevention groups have been keeping these numbers yearly since 2011. The Municipalities have already had over 10 years to come up with a solution and prepare and do something about it!
  • What we need is actual housing built!! All this does is keep the status quo and offers no real solutions.
  • Complete a housing/homelessness resource needs-gap analysis, this will reduce knee jerk reactions and wasted money.
  • The is a chronic shortage of affordable housing locally. Agencies work in silos and citizens do not know what supports are out there when needed. In all honesty the lady that spoke to her experience may have been eligible for help before she was in the eviction process. She may have been able to get one month emergency assistance and one time discretionary funding towards the rent arrears to maintain the home. She likely did not know this. Also other supports may have been there for her family.
  • Fast action, as the homeless in Belleville are creating other issues in the community.

3. What do these aims not address about the homelessness needs that exist locally?

  • Need for more supportive housing – mobile and inter-professional core teams.
  • Other populations, prevention projects/retention piece, veterans not a priority group.
  • Families, Loyalist College students, new immigrants, air base.
  • Prevention/inflow, well resources network of community service providers in the WFP.
  • Does not prioritize prevention, success is contingent upon permanent/affordable housing development.
  • Indigenous and First Nations Peoples, humanizing and reducing the stigma/myth busting based on data, using evidence and defining what type of housing would make the biggest difference.
  • Stigma (shifting the narrative of the community to allow people to feel heard, seen and taken seriously), does not include supportive permanent housing.
  • Welfare rate and ODSP rate not keeping up with rate of housing and cost of living.
  • 2027 seems too far out – shorter goals to measure could be by end of year, by end of next year and so on.
  • What level of financial commitment is being put forward by all levels of government.
  • They need somewhere to pitch their tent so that police and help can be near by, many cities do this so the can keep track of them but also allow them to have an area to stay with resources close by.
  • We need more dedicated social housing built! Yes., actual buildings. The private sector is not going to fix this.
  • Complete a housing/homelessness resource needs-gap analysis, this will reduce knee jerk reactions and wasted money.
  • The by name list – this stat is too hard to pin down.
  • Drug addiction, affordable housing and housing availability, living wages.
  • Lack of housing & affordable housing, lack of mental health resources & addiction resources, lack of larger places like grace inn, need more meals provided for homeless, lack of place for them to stay or set up tents etc without being kicked out, lack of place to stay 24hrs, lack of warning centres that open 24hrs or at least longer than current & that open anytime it’s zero or below.

4. What aims should or could be added to make a measurable reduction in homelessness locally within the next 4 years?

  • Prevention and community education to reduce stigma and NIMBYism.
  • Prioritizing prevention, keeping people who are housing housed to slow down the inflow.
  • Properly resource the not-for-profit sector to effectively prioritize the services to BNL individuals.
  • Engaging business and community at large in being proactive vs. defensive and embracing our fellow citizens.
  • Rate of movement from temporary housing to permanent.
  • Staff hired for supportive housing, housing sustainability and housing retention.
  • A structured financial commitment from all levels of government. Quinte health care has failed our community in regards to mental health care when they should of been the main hub to proper health care as opposed to our local police department. Properly trained staff to deal with mental health episodes without putting the responsibility back on our local police would be beneficial to those suffering.
  • Having a plan in motion and running. Homelessness has been a growing issue and now its hit its peak for the city to see it as a problem all while they were closing down programs that were helping the homeless.
  • We need a larger homeless shelter.
  • As part of this puzzle and part of the needs-gap analysis, review the potential impact on local housing the Collage system has in the area by any increase of their student population.
  • Should the College be required to provide a percentage of dedicated housing to help house their students, reducing the stress on the local rental market? (is it possible the economic benefit of a local college is now being reduced or lost lost by their need for increased student rental units?)
  • Rent subsidy for low income earners.
  • Affordable housing and paid addiction facilities

5. What can your organization do to support these aims and reduce homelessness?

  • Belleville Quinte West Community Health Centre – care teams for supportive housing, maintain/sustain housing (but need resources to do this).
  • Community Advocacy and Legal Centre – sheriffs department eviction tribunals/landlords
  • Resource the NFP partners and engage all community stakeholders.
  • Quinte Health – integrate into team and inter-professional primary care/mental team.
  • Join in discussion.
  • New zoning by-law to remove “people-zoning”, need technical working group with staffing from County and local municipalities.
  • Remain call entry point.

Timeline

February 27, 2024 – Survey respondents want to see increased funding for Hastings County Social Services (homelessness & housing)

The 2nd 2024 Operating Budget Survey ran from Feb. 1 to 23 and received 587 total responses. The City’s summarized the answers to each question included the following related to homelessness:

QuestionSummary
In your opinion, how well does the 2024 operating budget align with the budgetary guidelines established?There is not enough allocation to housing initiatives within Social Services portfolio.
Are you generally satisfied with the new initiatives in the operating budget?No, there are not enough new funds allocated to housing initiatives under Social Services portfolio.
In your opinion, what changes or improvements would you suggest for the 2024 operating budget to better meet the needs of the community?Increase in Social Services (homelessness & housing)

November 14, 2023 – Mayor Neil Ellis says emergency action plan needed on homelessness

From 2006 to ’14 we basically had some couch-surfing, but really no visible homelessness. I went away for basically two terms — eight years — came back, and we have approximately 200 homeless

So it’s grown and grown and growing, and there doesn’t seem to be an end to it.

It’s basically a health crisis. It’s a social economic crisis. And I don’t see that successive governments at the provincial level … are tackling any type of thing that we can see — whether it’s poor policy decisions, or they’re just not interested in it

When I look at it, why aren’t they interested? Basically the cost, but the homeless don’t vote, and I hate to say it. But it’s a social crisis right now and we need to get out in front of it.

Mayor Neil Ellis to CBC Radio’s Ontario Morning

Ellis said as mayor he gets about 5 to 15 calls a week from residents about homelessness, and the MPP Todd Smith gets fewer. The mayor said residents don’t realize they should call upper levels of government and lobby them instead.

November 14, 2023 – Belleville calls on the province to acknowledge the homelessness crisis and commit to ending it

The motion asks the province to step up with much more financial and services support saying municipalities don’t have the resources to deal with increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness.

Provincial Recognition of Homelessness as a Crisis
REC. NO. 456-2023
Moved by Councillor Lisa Anne Chatten
Seconded by Councillor Kathryn Brown
WHEREAS the homelessness crisis is taking a devastating toll on families and communities, undermining a healthy and prosperous Ontario; and

WHEREAS the homelessness crisis is the result of the underinvestment and poor policy choices of successive provincial governments; and

WHEREAS homelessness requires a range of housing, social service and health solutions from government; and

WHEREAS homelessness is felt most at the level of local municipal governments and the residents that they serve; and

WHEREAS municipalities are doing their part, but do not have the resources, capacity or tools to address this complex challenge; and

WHEREAS leadership and urgent action is needed from the provincial government on an emergency basis to develop, resource, and
implement a comprehensive plan to prevent, reduce and ultimately end homelessness in Ontario.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of Belleville calls on the Provincial Government to immediately:

  • Acknowledge that homelessness in Ontario is a social, economic, and health crisis;
  • Commit to ending homelessness in Ontario;
  • Work with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and a broad range of community, health, Indigenous and economic partners to develop, resource, and implement an action plan to achieve this goal;

AND FURTHER THAT a copy of this motion be sent to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services; the Minister of Health, the Association of AA Ontario (AMO), the Honorable Todd Smith, Member of Provincial Parliament for Bay of Quinte, and the Honorable Ric Bresee, Member of Provincial Parliament for Hastings-Lennox and Addington.

I understand why the province made the decision many, many years ago to discontinue psychiatric hospitals but what we were told was that all of these additional services would be put in place and those additional services never materialized.

Councillor Kathryn Brown

July 10, 2023 – City of Belleville Homelessness Summit Follow-up

The summit emphasized that various factors contribute to homelessness, including but not limited to unemployment, lack of affordable housing, mental health challenges, substance abuse issues, and systemic inequality. Understanding these root causes will be crucial to developing sustainable solutions. The summit made it clear that homelessness is a growing problem in our city that will require a multi-faceted approach to solving a very complex issue.

The City of Belleville Homelessness Summit identified key issues related to homelessness and formulated a set Aims & Measures. By prioritizing a Housing-First approach, strengthening support services, promoting collaboration, and investing in affordable housing initiatives, Belleville can make significant strides towards ending homelessness in our community. It is recommended that City Council adopt the developed Aims & Measures and forward these to the Hastings County Community and Human Services Committee.

CAO’s Office

May 1, 2023 – Hastings County receives 80% increase in Ontario’s Homeless Prevention Program (HPP) funding, an increase of $6,142,600

Funding goes to programs by local social services to help homeless people across the region, and to initiatives designed to prevent more people from becoming homeless.

April 13, 2023 – Homelessness Summit

Attendees from the summit included: Bay of Quinte MP Ryan Williams, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Hastings—Lennox and Addington MPP Ric Bresee, representatives from surrounding municipalities, Bridge Street United Church, Grace Inn Shelter, John Howard Society, Salvation Army, Youth Hab Belleville, Canadian Mental Health Association Hastings Prince Edward, Quinte Health Care, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Unit, Belleville Police Service, Quinte Home Builders’ Association, All-Together Housing and more.

The day consisted of presentations from Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, interviews with individuals with lived experience, a panel discussion on what it takes to end homelessness with representatives from the municipalities working through their own homelessness action plans, and a roundtable session with invited guests from the various community organizations and partners.

Each community partner taking part in the event had a chance to voice their concerns, thoughts and ideas. At the end of the day, a number of draft aims and measures for ending homelessness were presented and discussed by the group, including:

  • Confirming and sustaining a reliable By-Name List
  • Improved information sharing and reporting of homelessness data
  • Improved Coordinated Access System development (including expansion of health and justice partners)
  • Complete a housing/homelessness resource needs-gap analysis; use it for provincial and federal funding advocacy efforts
  • Expanded transitional housing units and housing allowances to support housing affordability
  • Reduce chronic homelessness by 25 per cent by March 2027
  • End veteran homelessness (reach Functional Zero) by April 2025

Members of the public who would like to provide comment are encouraged to complete the online Homelessness Summit Aims Feedback Survey. Those who require accessibility supports to fully participate in the online survey are asked to contact accessibility@belleville.ca so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

“We are very pleased with the progress made today,” said Mayor Neil Ellis. “By bringing all of our partners together in the same room, we were able to develop actionable items and timelines that we as a community can work towards to address this crisis locally. Belleville City Council is eager to get started on these items and working towards a Belleville where everyone has a place to call home.”

More information and updates will be posted as they are made and available at: Belleville.ca/EndingHomelessness

City of Belleville statement regarding the Summit on Homelessness

We are very pleased with the progress made today

By bringing all of our partners together in the same room, we were able to develop actionable items and timelines that we as a community can work towards to address this crisis locally. Belleville City Council is eager to get started on these items and working towards a Belleville where everyone has a place to call home.

Mayor Neil Ellis

2019 – Reaching Home: Belleville Homelessness Plan

All communities receiving funding from Designated Communities stream are required to use this template in order to complete the community plan under Reaching Home.

Core outcomes tracked by Hastings County:

  • fewer people experience homelessness overall (homelessness is reduced overall)
  • fewer people experience homelessness for the first time (new inflows into homelessness are reduced)
  • fewer people return to homelessness from housing (returns to homelessness are reduced)
  • fewer Indigenous peoples experience homelessness (Indigenous homelessness is reduced)
  • fewer people experience chronic homelessness (chronic homelessness is reduced)

Reaching Home: Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy aims to support individuals and families in the city of Belleville to maintain safe, stable, and affordable housing, and to reduce the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness. These federal funds are overseen by a Community Advisory Board (CAB). The CAB consists of community members with related experience, such as Justice, Legal, Social Services, Faith, Health Care, etc.

Sources

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