Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says homelessness solutions need provincial funds

What does the City of Windsor need to solve homelessness? The mayor weighs in.

The mayor weighs in on what he thinks needs to happen during year-end interview

Mayor Drew Dilkens says the provincial funds are needed to fully address the issue of homelessness in the city. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

If you ask Windsor's mayor Drew Dilkens what his thoughts are on the homelessness crisis, he'll say it's "a very, very complex topic."

During his year-end interview with CBC Windsor News Live at 6 host Arms Bumanlag, he said the province needs to step in for the city to solve the homelessness problem.

"People don't just end up homeless one day. They get there through a process. And so addiction is obviously one of the major causes of homelessness," said Dilkens.

"We don't fund addictions. It's not our role as a government to do that, but we see the problems happening here in our street."

Windsor city councillors unanimously voted in favour of investing in 150 affordable housing units on the city's east end. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

However, Susie Redekop, community developer at the Homeless Coalition of Windsor Essex County, said addictions causing homelessness is a myth. Very often, she said, it's "the other way around."

"You ended up homeless, and now sometimes to cope, people are turning toward maybe something addicting, or now struggling with that because they're coping," said Redekop. "We just can't say that everyone who's homeless is addicted, because that's not true."

She thinks more funding needs to be allocated for affordable housing to solve the issue of homelessness.

She points to the 150 units that are coming to Windsor as a success story, but said it's not enough because there are currently around 5,000 applicants on the wait list for an affordable unit. — and each application might include multiple people.

Redekop hopes there will be more funding for affordable housing units built in the region. Some of it can come through the National Housing Strategy from the federal government.

"If that funding doesn't come through, then we're going to see homelessness increase," she said.

In the short term, Redekop said shelters need to see adequate funding — especially during the winter months.

The city currently funds places like the Salvation Army and the Welcome Centre. according to Dilkens. There's also about $400,000 spent a year to house people in city motels.

However, he continues to look to the province for help.

"It's not something the municipal government can just throw money at and have the hope of solving."