Orangeville Council requesting funding from County for men’s homeless shelter

October 7, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

After bringing a motion forward requesting that Orangeville Town Council approve $166,546 in temporary emergency funding for a men’s homeless shelter last Monday, Mayor Sandy Brown has changed his tune.

Following lengthy discussions and debate amongst councillors at their regular Council meeting on Sept. 27, the decision to approve funding was deferred to a Public Meeting held on Oct. 4. At that time Choices Youth Shelter, who’s been operating a men’s shelter in Orangeville since late August, presented their business plan.

Prior to and following the presentation, councillors said that the issue of men’s homelessness should be covered by the County of Dufferin, not the municipality.

Mayor Brown’s motion with respect to the emergency funding was amended and passed unanimously, with the key change being that the funding would come from Dufferin County instead of Orangeville.

“What this does is push the conversation now over to Dufferin County, which a number of our council members have suggested that it’s really where it should be,” said Mayor Brown.

His amended motion now states that the Town of Orangeville will request Dufferin County provide additional funding support, as required, for homeless men over the next six months. The support will include emergency/transitional housing, counselling, diversion programs, addictions/mental health treatment and job or skills training. The motion also states that the County of Dufferin will continue to work with SHIP, Choices, the Town of Orangeville’s Men’s Homelessness Committee and other support agencies to find the best possible solutions to best reduce men’s homelessness in the region.

Orangeville paid over $16.5 million to the County of Dufferin as its tax levy for 2021.

Mayor Brown’s original ask for $166,000 from the Town came about after Choices Youth Shelter opened a local facility for men six weeks back, made possible through a one-time anonymous donation. The issue is their lease on the properties housing the men expire Oct. 15 and at least six months of funding is required for it to be resigned, otherwise they will have to vacate the properties.

“We realize – and I’m speaking to our friends at Choices right now – that this is a delay in this funding,” said Mayor Brown, regarding the amendment to his emergency funding motion.

“However, what we’re experiencing tonight is democracy in action. This is what we do. We debate issues, we come up with solutions, and sometimes we have to change the tact here.”

While the chair of Choices, Randy Narine said the $166,000 in funding from the Town is needed as a buffer to keep them afloat, they have a meeting scheduled with the County of Dufferin this Friday to go over their business plan and discuss funding. However, it is unlikely any funding could be made immediately available to coincide with the expiry of their lease on Oct. 15.

Meanwhile, Coun. Todd Taylor made note of the fact that at Dufferin County, it is likely that there will be support for Mayor Brown’s request of additional support for men who are homeless.

This is because Orangeville holds 14 of 32 votes at County Council, as it’s weighted by population, and Warden Darren White, who attended the Oct. 4 Public Meeting, expressed his support for Mayor Brown’s endeavour.

Warden White noted that affordable housing, homelessness, mental health support and anything to do with community services have been a top priority for him over the past decade that he’s been on County Council.

He shared that in his own life, he’s had to utilize various supports and understands the important role they play in society.

“I have made no secret over the years, of challenges that I’ve had often. I mean, about 15 years ago, I was in a position where I was seriously injured at work, I had no coverage,” Warden White recalled.

“The coverage I should have had through WSIB decided to fight it, and at one point, in order to feed my three children, we were using the Orangeville Food Bank and the Shelburne Food Bank, because we had no options. We almost were homeless.”

Now, Warden White says it’s a key issue he focuses on and that in his view, it’s the same for many other councillors at the County.

With unanimous support of Mayor Brown’s amended motion by Orangeville Council, he said he’s hopeful that he and Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh, who sit on County Council, can go there with a unified front to request additional funds for men’s homelessness.

County Council’s next meeting is scheduled for next Thursday (Oct. 14).

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