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Review calls for homeless hub in North Bay


A review of the homelessness system in the District of Nipissing recommends North Bay have an integrated low-barrier shelter and homeless hub.

 The Homelessness System Review Feasibility Study was commissioned by the local social services board last fall to coincide with the housing needs and supply study.

But the chair of the board, Mark King, is not a fan of the idea.

“We’ve already done that at Northern Pines,” King said.

“We’ve probably invested about $14 million into that particular project.”

A new feasibility study focusing on helping individuals obtain permanent housing reviewed the current system to identify gaps, cultural equity, barriers.

“There was a gentleman sleeping in the doorway this morning when I got here,” said Kevin Chalmers, who has struggled with homelessness.

The consultant recommends developing a 24/7 business model for homelessness services, including an integrated low barrier shelter and homeless hub.

The report said this type of model aligns with the district’s goal of ending chronic homelessness – while at the same time provide pathways to services like emergency shelters, warming sites, food security and outreach services.

“I could see a certain portion of the recommendation from the consultant with respect to the hub as an information centre,” King said.

“I wouldn’t want to go further than that.”

“I stayed at the low barrier last year and there is a long tedious operation just to get in to get a bed,” Chalmers added.

The board is exploring the costs and resources required for planning, implementation, and operation, as well as recommendations on how to secure funding for operations should it want to further explore this option.

“One of the things I think was important in the recommendations was to actually realize the importance of outreach… providing people with information and trying to help them find the supports they need,” King said.

The board said the report will be used to shape the next 10-year housing and homelessness plan for the district.

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