Windsor

Windsor mobile help unit sees 849 visits from homeless in first three months

Data from the Mobile Outreach and Support Team's first three months shows 849 visits from people experiencing homelessness.

43 per cent of the visits were from unknown clients

Adrienne Payne, outreach worker for Family Services Winsdsor-Essex and MOST, stands with Breanna Pomeroy — a recent survivor of human trafficking and in recovery for addiction. They spoke about the benefits of the MOST unit. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Adrienne Payne remembers the Mobile Outreach and Support Team's (MOST) inaugural run. 

She said that January night was so cold — her feet so freezing — that she couldn't stop thinking about all of those who spent their whole days in that kind of weather. 

That evening, Payne met a man who spent a few nights sleeping outside and was able to convince him to go to the Downtown Mission.

"We were also able to provide him with a Tim's card, so he could get him a warm coffee, which he really appreciated," said Payne, who serves as an outreach worker for Family Services Windsor-Essex and MOST. "Being able to provide him some basic needs supplies, hygiene and some food for him to eat."

The Mobile Outreach and Support Team (MOST) is on the streets of Windsor five days a week from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to help those living on the streets with supports. 2:21

The MOST team was able to follow up with the man the next day and were even able to connect him with social services, as well as fill out housing forms and applications.

Though the program was intended to end its test run on July 31, 2019, the Ministry of Health through the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) announced Tuesday plans to work with partner organizations to continue MOST. Details will be finalized over the next few months.

Funding for MOST is expected to exceed $200,000 yearly, according to Janice Kaffer, CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. 

First three months

MOST began as a collaboration between Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Canadian Mental Health Association, Family Services Windsor-Essex, the City of Windsor, and Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario.

The team consists of a social worker, an outreach worker and a personal support worker.

According to recently released data, MOST has had 849 visits between Jan. 31 and April 30, 2019 — the program's first three months of operation.

Additional data reveals that 43 per cent of visits were from new or unknown clients.

"It's the after hours that you notice more people coming out. Maybe they slept all day and they're just kind of starting to wake up and I think that's where we see the new faces," said Payne, who believes new people are coming to Windsor as she's noticing younger faces in the community.

Windsor hotspots

Sue LaButte drives the van for MOST and said she's learned so much being a part of it.

"You hear about these things all the time. You read [it] in the newspaper, you see it on the news, but until you're out there and experiencing it, I don't think you realize exactly how much it's needed," she said.

The mobile unit drives around the city between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. during weekdays. LaButte said the city's "hotspots" are 333 Glengarry Ave. and the Windsor Public Library's downtown location.

Members of the team sit inside the MOST van. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

The outreach team offer gifts cards, clothing and other warm items, food and snacks, as well as hygiene items. They also provide education on services like housing, shelters, mental health, addiction and more general healthcare.

Data shows MOST has given supplies during 94 per cent of visits and provided motivational counselling during 26 per cent of visits. The program's services are also used mainly by men — 49 per cent of whom range between the ages of 31 and 40. 

'Service is making a difference'

Brianna Pomeroy is a recent survivor of human trafficking. She moved to Windsor from Winnipeg and met a man who she said got her addicted to crystal meth.

Pomeroy said he soon took her car, bank account, house and placed her in debt bondage. She was able to leave him and return home to Winnipeg. She later returned to Windsor and got help.

"I went to the transitional stability centre. I got called into the concurrent disorder of program. I graduated there in April," she said.

When she heard about MOST, Pomeroy knew it would help.

"I do believe that the service is making a difference," she said. "The fact that they build relationships with their clients, that they're stable, that they're consistent at the places that they're at, they can provide those resources."

Though she's not a client, Pomeroy rode along with MOST one night and said it inspired her.

"Be a part of it for the night and see how they were interacting with people and just kind of give them some tidbits and also learn from the experience on how I can continue to work my recovery."

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