Higher levels of government are shifting their funding models for homelessness to emphasis “housing first” and housing currently homeless persons. The result is that prevention programs such as the Trusteeship Program – which assists those at risk of homelessness to manage their resources – have lost funding.
A year ago, the City Council used municipal funds to give “bridge funding” to the trusteeship program to enable transitional support to clients during the shutdown of the program.
Community advocates came forth to Council’s Emergency and Community Services Committee on Monday, January 18, 2016 to ask Councillors to make permanent the bridge funding.
The trusteeship program serves 647 clients who do not meet the criteria of the Office of Public Guardian’s trusteeship program.
Councillors were supportive of the delegates and sympathetic to the impact of shutting down the program. Councillors pushed back against requests for the City to fund the program in place of the ending provincial and federal funding.
The back and forth became heated when one delegate accused City staff of being selective in their reports and not caring about the impacts of cutting the programs.
Councillors Green, Merulla, and Whitehead all pushed at the delegates for mobilizing for the Council meeting while at the same time the provincial government was holding a pre-budget consultation “across the street” at the Sheraton Hotel.
And that was just the delegations.
Once Council turned to debate, they made a point of emphasizing the trusteeship program funding cut was a federal decision and the municipality stepped in with stop gap funding to enable a transition period for the program.
Repeatedly, the Council emphasised they are lobbying the province and federal government to increase housing and homelessness prevention support programs.
The end result was Council accepted the staff report with direction to housing staff to work on assisting clients impacted by the shift in funding focus by the higher levels of government.