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Ending homelessness in Sudbury would cost $350M: report

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A successful strategy to end functional homelessness in Greater Sudbury would cost $350 million, a report headed to city council concludes.

The city’s share of the cost would be more than $100 million, with the rest coming from the federal and provincial governments.

The report comes on the heels of a motion councillors passed last October calling for staff to come up with “a roadmap to end homelessness in the City of Greater Sudbury by 2030, which included financial and staffing requirements to transition services from temporary shelters to transitional and permanent housing.”

Ending “functional homelessness” means getting to the point where homelessness is rare and people who become unhoused are homeless for a short time.

“Achieving functional zero homelessness requires a complete system transformation to ensure there is access to housing for all citizens and adequate supports available to maintain housing,” the report said.

To succeed, the report said a transition has to be made from passive services – such as shelters and cooling stations – to active services.

Active services include building affordable housing, having preventative services in place before someone is homeless, and housing-first supports.

“Without an investment in active services, this creates a bottleneck of persons entering homelessness with a lack of opportunities to become housed,” the report said.

“Similar approaches have been taken by other municipalities, including Waterloo Region, which highlight significant investments required for affordable housing and homelessness (approximately $245 million) in order to end chronic homelessness by 2030.”

The $350 million breaks down into $322 million for capital construction costs, $13.6 million in annual operating costs and $11 million a year for rent subsidies.

800 affordable housing units

In terms of new construction, the top priority is building 800 units of affordable housing ($280 million to build, $9.6 million in annual rent subsidies and $600,000 a year for maintenance.)

Another $36 million would be spent building two, 40-unit supportive housing, which would require $5 million a year for program costs and $960,000 for rent subsidies.

Other planks of the plan include creating 24-hour emergency beds for youth ages 16-24, as well as expanded services for women and First Nations clients.

The report said a major challenge is the shrinking number of landlords willing to participate in rent supplement agreements and the lowest rental vacancy market in a decade.

“A two-fold increase in the length of time to become housed through urgent status since 2021, and the loss of various affordable housing units in the downtown core, among other factors, have amounted to significant challenges for individuals experiencing homelessness to obtain housing, even with significant efforts and supports provided through the homelessness-serving sector,” the report said.

Current efforts to invest in passive services without a long-term plan only create a growing “bottleneck” of people in need of a place to live in the shrinking housing market.

Read the full report here.

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