By Chad Ingram
Haliburton County residents generated20 per cent of requests for financial assistance from those who arehomeless or on the brink of homelessness from the Kawartha Lakes andHaliburton Housing Help Centre last year.
Hope Lee CEO of the Kawartha LakesHaliburton Housing Corporation gave a presentation to HaliburtonCounty councillors Feb. 17 reporting on the first year of theHousing Help Centre.
The centre located in Lindsay wasconceived by Kawartha Lakes council in 2014 and integrates fundingfrom a number of provincial programs into a single entity.
Provincial social services and housingfunding is the delivered jointly to the county and City of KawarthaLakes.
The centre provides homelessnessprevention programming assistance with housing needs and signing upfor social service programs such as Ontario works or the child caresubsidy. It also provides assistance for landlords and tenants aswell as help with utility payments and home repairs.
“Most of our requests are forfinancial assistance” Lee told councillors explaining thoserequests were from those who are homeless or on the verge ofhomelessness.
There were almost 2000 requests during 2015 20 per cent of them coming from Haliburton County.
The county has a permanent populationof about 17000 the City of Kawartha Lakes just below 80000.
Those requests resulted in 1200payments 20 per cent of them paid to county residents. Lee said theaverage payment was about $700. The requests take about three days toprocess.
Hope told councillors there is awaiting list of more than 1000 to get into the 1050 unitscontrolled by the housing corporation.
Most of the demand is for one-bedroomunits. While in the City of Kawartha Lakes it's singles and coupleswho are the most in need in Haliburton County it's seniors.
There is also programming for those noton social assistance such as the utility arrears program andlow-income energy assistance program.
“The numbers that jump off the sheetare the hydro arrears” said Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin.
The help centre made total payments ofsome $267000 to assist residents with their hydro bills. In thecounty there were 58 hydro arrears payments totalling more than$113000 for an average payment of nearly $2000. In the City ofKawartha Lakes there were 122 payments totalling more than $153000.
Devolin asked if the program theprovince itself recently introduced to help residents struggling withthe cost of electricity would help reduce those figures.
“Something has to happen” Leesaid.
While the centre is located in LindsayLee noted that half the users in 2015 did not enter the buildingitself but used digital communication or went through communitypartners such as library branches.
“It was never intended to be aone-stop-shop where somebody had to visit a physical location” shesaid.
The centre operates with funding fromthe Ministry of Community and Social Services' consolidatedhomelessness prevention emergency energy fund emergency hostelservices and domiciliary hostel programs and Ministry of MunicipalAffairs and Housing's provincial rent bank.