Ontario doles out more than $900k to St. Thomas homeless shelter

Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark - July 23/19 (Blackburnnews.com photo by Josh Boyce)

A busy shelter that supports those experiencing homelessness in St. Thomas is set to receive over $900,000 from the provincial government to help expand services.

On Wednesday, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark announced a $927,831 investment to support Inn out of the Cold, a shelter located at 10 Princess Avenue. Currently, the two-storey building has 23 beds and provides 24/7 support to residents in need of shelter.

The investment will help the shelter create a hub of services to meet an array of needs among those struggling with homelessness, mental health, and addictions. It will also support health care, harm reduction services, and practical help such as identification replacement, social assistance, and long-term housing solutions.

“Community and supportive housing is a critical component of our commitment to building 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years, which will ensure that all Ontarians, especially our most vulnerable, have a home that meets their needs and budget,” Clark said in a statement released Wednesday.

The funds are part of the province’s Social Services Relief Fund which has provided over $1.2-billion of support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to help municipalities and Indigenous program partners create longer-term housing solutions and help vulnerable Ontarians, including those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“We all have a role to play to ensure that nobody in need of safety and shelter gets left behind,” said St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston. “We have welcomed this funding in support of the Inn and the stability and safety it has brought for people experiencing homelessness or struggling with other challenges such as mental health or disability.”

The province said it will also invest $25-million annually into the new Homeless Prevention Program. The program was created to better serve municipalities in finding housing and other supports for at-risk individuals. According to the province, the additional funding brings Ontario’s annual investment in the program to almost $464-million.