Newly opened men’s homeless shelter seeking funding from Orangeville Council

September 16, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Permanent funding for the newly established men’s homeless shelter in Orangeville could be secured in the next 30 days.

Choices Youth Shelter opened the facility in early August thanks to a private donor, but securing the $300,000 to $350,000 it costs to operate per year, has been a challenging task. Brian Scott, vice chair of Choices, delivered a presentation to Orangeville Council on Monday (Sept. 13), regarding the men’s shelter project and need for long term funding, which was well received.

Scott asked the Town to provide $175,000 so the shelter can continue its operations for six months while it seeks revenue from corporate or private donors and works with the County of Dufferin to secure annual funding. Currently, Choices has until mid-October to get funding to keep the men’s shelter in place.

“The shelter is in its infancy. We are currently in a temporary location until mid-October, and there is much to put in place to create a sustainable operation,” Scott said. “Without that sustainable funding, we cannot remain open.”

In response, Mayor Sandy Brown, who formed the Town’s Men’s Homelessness Committee, put forward a Notice of motion at Monday’s meeting, requesting that town staff bring forward a comprehensive report that considers financial support for the shelter at their next meeting.

He added that the Men’s Homelessness Committee has been exploring different models of men’s shelters in several municipalities that have been successful and there may be a few different options for getting funding.

“The one that I’m thinking of is in Orillia. They call it the Lighthouse there. They did get seed money through CMHC [Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation], which has a program for affordable housing, which includes emergency shelter housing,” he said.

“With that money they hired a fundraising coordinator, a professional fundraiser, who then went on to raise money and apply for grants, both with government agencies, and also found money through foundations and private donors.”

Following a similar model might be the best approach long term, but Brown noted the importance of getting funding for Choices immediately, so they can remain operational past the middle of October.

Scott said Choices is planning to work with the County of Dufferin and CMHC to create an operational plan that will make them sustainable.

Coun. Joe Andrews, who sits on the Town’s Men’s Homelessness Committee, said that in addition to government funding, he’s hoping there are some individuals in the community who can provide funding to the shelter.

“I’m hoping that there are others in the community that can also step up. We have heard the plight of those in our community, who of course, in many cases, through no fault of their own, find themselves where they are,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh congratulated Choices on the initiative but suggested that the issue of men’s homelessness should be managed and funded through the County of Dufferin.

“I do think definitely for funding, we should be going to the County and trying to get some funding off them as well,” he said. “With two of us sitting on County Council that would probably support it, it probably has a pretty good chance of getting some funding.”

Coun. Todd Taylor echoed Macintosh’s comments.

“I feel more comfortable if we approach the County and went through those avenues first,” he said. “It’s just my take, I don’t have an issue with what we’re doing, I think it’s a benevolent cause and all of those great things. I just not sure this is an Orangeville piece.”

Mayor Brown responded by saying it should be a responsibility of Orangeville more than the County because advocates for men’s homelessness in the community have been fighting for a shelter for many years, but the need has not been met.

He did, however, agree that Orangeville should be coming to Dufferin County to request funding and it should be a collaborative effort.

“We do have some sympathetic voices on County Council on this matter already and I think we will be successful if we do take a motion to County Council,” Mayor Brown remarked.

Coun. Taylor said he’d encourage all his fellow councillors to contact Warden Darren White and express their position on the men’s shelter funding.

Orangeville Council will vote on whether they’ll provide any funding to the shelter at their next meeting, Sept. 27.

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