October 9, 2008
Media Release

The Regional Municipality of York hosts forum to end homelessness

Homelessness in York Region: Bringing our Community Plan to Life provides framework for action, new programs and initiatives
 
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York’s Community and Health Services department this week hosted Homelessness in York Region: Bringing Our Community Plan to Life at the Varley Art Gallery in the Town of Markham.
 
This community forum, held in partnership with the York Region Alliance to End Homelessness, brought together elected officials, human service agencies, educators, emergency services, health care organizations, funders and the community to discuss the issue of homelessness in York Region.
 
Forum participants focused on the York Region Community Plan to End Homelessness, a planning tool that identifies priority issues and areas of greatest need for homeless people in York Region.
 
“Despite the high quality of life that York Region offers, the number of residents vulnerable to homelessness in our community is growing,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  “This forum is extremely valuable.  It’s an opportunity to have a cross-sector dialogue, to identify at-risk residents and outline community-based solutions to respond to their needs.”
 
According to the 2006 Census, the number of residents living on a low income in York Region has increased by 55 per cent since 2001, representing 112,501 people or 13 per cent of the population.  For a family of four, this would mean living on an income of $33,251 or less. 
 
“The key issues underlying homelessness are poverty and lack of affordable housing,” said Town of Richmond Hill Regional Councillor Brenda Hogg, Chair of the York Region Community Services and Housing Committee.  “A priority of the Community Plan is to maintain and improve the supply of affordable housing, including supportive housing.”
 
Finding affordable, suitable and adequate housing is becoming increasingly difficult for residents and newcomers to the Region, with 9,715 household dwellings (3.5 per cent) in need of major repairs, 12,665 unsuitable household dwellings (5.9 per cent) and 25,465 household residents (11.9 per cent) unable to afford adequate shelter.
 
“The gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is growing,” said Tanya Shute, Chair of the York Region Alliance to End Homelessness.  “Today’s forum provided an important opportunity for urgently needed dialogue around this issue.  If we are to create liveable and inclusive communities, there must be a broader understanding of the complexity of homelessness and the critical need for affordable housing.”
 
The York Region Alliance to End Homelessness is a coalition of social services providers and other community stakeholders working at all levels of government to understand, plan and implement a strategic response to homelessness in York Region.

The York Region Community Plan to End Homelessness is the second update to the original 2001 plan.  Developed by a Community Planning Group representing agencies and organizations involved in homelessness issues in York Region, the plan was endorsed by York Regional Council in March 2008.
 
For more information on York Region Community Plan to End Homelessness, please visit www.york.ca  For information about the York Region Alliance to End Homelessness, please visit www.yraeh.ca
 
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Backgrounder


The Regional Municipality of York hosts forum to end homelessness

Homelessness in York Region: Bringing our Community Plan to Life provides framework for action, new programs and initiatives
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York’s Community and Health Services department this week hosted Homelessness in York Region: Bringing Our Community Plan to Life in partnership with the York Region Alliance to End homelessness.
 
The event launched the newly updated York Region Community Plan to End Homelessness which identifies priority issues and areas of greatest need for homeless people in York Region with related activities, targets and potential partners.
 
The Community Plan identifies the following priority areas:
• A serious shortage of affordable housing and supportive housing in York Region
• Poverty is one of the root causes of homelessness
• Supports and services for homeless individuals and families, and those who are at risk of becoming homeless, are limited and don’t meet the needs of York Region residents
• Individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless have difficulty accessing health services
• Risk of homelessness is increased with mental health or substance abuse problems and the availability of services is not sufficient to meet the needs of this population group
• Shelter space and traditional housing is often limited for homeless youth, families and women
• There is a need for improved knowledge, public education and advocacy on homelessness
• There is a need for community development activities to further the community’s ability to reduce homelessness
 
The York Region Community Plan to End Homelessness is the second update to the original plan developed in 2001. Some of the Plan’s community-led initiatives receive funding from The Regional Municipality of York.
 
Through participation in the Homeless Partnering Strategy (HPS), a funding program of Human Resources Skills Development Canada, York Region contracts community service providers to carry out activities to benefit the Region’s homeless and those at-risk of homelessness.  In 2006, York Region was allocated $1.06 million of HPS funding over a two-year period, which concludes March 31, 2009.  Funded activities must meet the goals and priorities established in the Community Plan.
 
The York Region Alliance to End Homelessness is a coalition of social services providers and other community stakeholders working at all levels of government to understand, plan and implement a strategic response to homelessness in York Region.
 
For more information on the York Region Community Plan to End Homelessness or The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca
 
For information on the York Region Alliance to End Homelessness, contact www.yraeh.ca.
 
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York  Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell: 905 251-5553
 Email:jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

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