London, St. Thomas receive funding to help homeless during pandemic

Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Affordable housing in London and a new emergency shelter in St. Thomas are just two of the projects the provincial government is investing in locally to protect Ontario’s homeless from COVID-19.

Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek announced on Monday that the province will be providing $6,267,165 to the City of London and $927,831 to the City of St. Thomas as part of Ontario’s $510 million Social Services Relief Fund. Over $241 million of the fund is being dedicated to helping the province’s most vulnerable from the pandemic, including those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“We know that our municipal and Indigenous partners are facing extraordinary challenges, which is why these significant investments are so important,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark. “Our investments are helping to build longer-term solutions as well as meet ongoing, immediate needs related to COVID-19.”

London’s portion of the investment will go towards operating funding for overflow motel and hotel rooms, food security, cleaning costs, hiring staff, case management support, and rent relief. The capital funding will support the installation of modular affordable housing within the Forest City.

The City of St. Thomas’ investment will go towards operating funding for rent relief, as well as capital funding to support the purchase of a new building for a permanent emergency shelter.

“Our government is investing in important projects like this to help protect our most vulnerable citizens from COVID-19,” said Yurek in a news release. “We’re working hand in hand with our partners to make sure they have the tools and flexibility they need to keep people safe.”

The Social Services Relief Fund is part the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement, which will provide up to $4 billion to protect the health and well-being of the people in Ontario’s municipalities.