A one-day initiative is giving insight into people who are experiencing homelessness in the region.
This Wednesday, a point-in-time (PiT) count is being done for the first time across the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB).
In March, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing issued a directive for service managers to do a point-in-time count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people on a single night to capture numbers and basic demographics of the people affected at a single point in time. In Northern Ontario, the directive is being completed by the social services administration board.
Along with the PiT count, CDSSAB director of housing services Andrew Blomberg said a by-names list of people experiencing homelessness is also being created.
The ongoing, real-time list of people experiencing homelessness will be used to help connect people to housing options and support services, and create better co-ordination of services, he said.
“A successful PiT count will allow the community to provide a snapshot of the homeless throughout the district. It will help identify the characteristics and the needs of the local population. The information will help to enhance and plan and program development, it will also help us measure our progress towards ending homelessness. It’ll increase public awareness of homelessness and it will enhance our ability to test the effectiveness of our programs and interventions aimed at ending homelessness,” he said.
“We all believe that everyone deserves a place to call home. The PiT count and by-names list will provide us the information needed to help us better understand the needs and experiences of these individuals. It’ll help us be more responsive to current and changing needs and it will provide us the best possible way to support these vulnerable individuals."
Participating in the survey is voluntary and people who complete it will be offered an honorarium with a value of $10, said Melanie Verreault, PiT count co-ordinator.
Volunteers will be conducting the survey at organizations with clients and outdoors at strategic locations.
In Timmins, Verreault said the survey sites include Living Space, the Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, the CMHA building on 2nd Avenue, and the Good Samaritan Inn in South Porcupine.
Living Space's Christianne Blain said there has been advertising and they're doing their best to let people know about the survey.
“We know that when we do PiT counts or enumerations in various communities that it’s a conservative estimate. We recognize that we’re not going to have individuals come out always on the day that we are doing the PiT count, so we always keep in mind that this is a conservative estimate,” she said.
“Those individuals that are volunteering typically come from agencies where we’re already involved with the individuals experiencing homelessness so they’re more apt to speaking to us and we already have that rapport built with individuals in our community."
In the Minister's directive, the deadline for the PiT count to be completed is Dec. 15, 2021. The summary of the information must be submitted to the Ministry by Dec. 31.
A full breakdown of the data being gathered by the survey is available here.