“It is sad to see what is going on in Northumberland County”

photo: Northumberland County Housing Services Manager Rebecca Carman

Article and image by Valerie Macdonald

There will be another count of people without homes in Northumberland County, or at risk of losing theirs.

It is taking place during the week of April 16 to 20.

The first attempt to identify the homeless in the county took place in November 2016 as part of the 20,000 Homes initiative.

Back then, the county and associated community organizations discovered that of the 302 individual people and families contacted, “12%” were living out of doors, the county’s housing services manager Rebecca Carman told Hamilton Township councillors on Tuesday.

Of the 58 individuals and 17 families who were without a home, 26 were children, her presentation stated.

Between that count in late 2016 and June 2017, a total of 36 individuals and 13 families have been helped to find housing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were among the 12% living outside, Carman said in an interview. Not everyone was counted and new people move in, she explained. And those living outside may not have been determined to be the neediest when assessed, Carman added.

Those housed up until last summer were not actually linked to the count done in late 2016, she said.

Councillor Scott Jibb said the numbers fascinated, frustrated and disappointed him, and asked if the first count captured all the homeless and at-risk people (which included those living in hotels, couch surfing, etc.) when the first count was undertaken.

Carman said not everyone was reached and that it was a snapshot in time.

Mayor Mark Lovshin, who is the current Northumberland County Warden, said more people are using food banks and the need is growing. “It is sad to see what is going on in Northumberland County,” he said.

Lovshin did not refer to a recent consultant’s report for the county that has outlined a plan to reduce homelessness over the next five years, and the recent issue of a Request For Proposals for a homeless shelter for the county, and supports to move clients into their own housing.

Carman said she is going to councils in the Northumberland to tell them about the upcoming homeless person count, and that anyone wanting to volunteer to help or to fill in a survey, is asked to go to 20khomes@northumberlandcounty.ca