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With proper funding, officials say Timmins can end homeless

Ending homelessness in the north is within reach, according to Cochrane District Social Services.

A recent report says more than $6 million in provincial funding needs to be spent in certain areas to ensure the issue’s solved for good: housing, health, service hubs and Indigenous-led supports.

And Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board says it has more than $6 million to use over the next three years to do that by 2025.

“Everything has to happen at the same time because no one person’s story is the same,” said the board’s Brian Marks.

“Everyone is different and they present with different issues. And so building the system of care that we have in place and having the partners in the community to be able to provide the supports, where and when needed, is a huge piece.”

The board established a food services hub, is focusing on emergency shelter and is investing in transitional and supportive housing.

Marks said they’ll now be better funded and therefore more effective.

He has previously voiced doubts on whether ending homelessness would be possible in just more than two years, with the level of vitriol among some towards the area’s homeless and drug-addicted people.

But Marks said it is possible, with enough collaboration.

“I think the system of care that we have in place, with our partners that deliver mental health services, addictions services — and others who provide food and, you know, emergency shelter services,” he said.

COMMITTED TO THE SAME GOAL

“I think they’re all engaged and committed to the same goal. So, I think, you know, there’s an opportunity, here, to build the momentum to actually meet our goal of ending homelessness.”

Homelessness has tripled in the last two years, Marks said, amid rising costs and a surge in mental health and addictions issues. He said the key is ensuring there are enough homes for people to live in.

“If we can get a shovel in the ground in 2024 and deliver on a significant number of units, I think we’ll be well on the way to reaching that goal,” he said.

Once in place, Marks said social services will work to maintain a sustainable support system that won’t affect the taxpayer’s bottom line. 

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