Emergency housing, local supports needed to fight homelessness in Leamington
'Homelessness is just more hidden in Leamington' says project leader
Access to emergency housing and local services and supports are among the top priorities for people experiencing homelessness in Leamington, Ont.
That's according to a report issued by the Leamington Homelessness project, that also comes with a list of recommendations for the municipality.
Alissa Enns, the project lead for the Leamington Homelessness Project, said after completing a survey this summer, the group was able to start coming up with strategies to help people dealing with homelessness.
"The recommendations laid out in the report really focus on centring those with lived experience within our work," she said.
"Furthering community co-ordinated access is another one and making sure that services are located in Leamington."
One problem, Enns said, is that services and supports for people experiencing homelessness in the region are almost exclusively found in the City of Windsor.
We're not trying to reinvent the wheel.— Alissa Enns
"That, coupled with limited transportation options within the county, makes it really difficult for people to access the supports that they need," she said.
So one of the main priorities for her group is to create a place for supports within the community, which has happened with the Windsor Essex Housing Connections program, that now has a space in the South Essex Community Council offices in Leamington.
Enns also said it is important to contextualize what homelessness in Leamington is like.
"Homelessness is just more hidden in Leamington," she said.
"Meaning that people are more likely to be couch surfing or living in discrete locations, like tents or their cars makes it more difficult to connect with individuals than it would be if they were sleeping rough outside."
She also said that while there is a need for emergency housing, the community doesn't need a standard emergency shelter.
"We're looking at more innovative solutions that make sense for a rural community the size of Leamington," she said.
"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel, necessarily, but there are just standard issues that exist within a standard shelter model. And we'd like to kind of move outside of that in a way that really makes sense for our community."
The project has received financial support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
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With files from Katerina Georgieva