Work to address men’s homelessness in Orangeville ongoing

May 27, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

The absence of shelter services for men who are homeless in Orangeville is an issue Mayor Sandy Brown is hoping to address.

He brought forward a motion to form a Mayor’s Special Committee on Men’s Homelessness at a Council meeting on April 26 and the Terms of Reference for the committee are expected at Council’s May 31 meeting, at which time Town staff will be directed to advertise for volunteers for the committee.

The committee will have six members of the public, two councillors, and Mayor Sandy Brown with the goal of bringing shelter services for men into the community in time for winter.

“Right now, when men find themselves in crisis, without housing, our people just point their arms south and say go to Brampton,” said Mayor Brown. “I think we’re a big enough municipality that we should have some way to resolve and help these people. Much like Family Transition Place helps women and children that are in crisis, and in difficult situations, we think there should be some sort of facility to assist men that find themselves in crisis as well.”

The issue of men’s homelessness in Orangeville has been a conversation among community leaders for years now, according to Sandy Brown, with Terry Cater of Carter’s Law Firm on Broadway, helping to lead the charge.

“Mr. Carter is also the landlord of the lighthouse, which is a soup kitchen, that helps folks that need assistance, and has been a beacon for some homeless men over the years,” said Mayor Brown.

Another advocate for homeless individuals has been Pastor Matthew McLean of the Good Friends Fellowship (The Uptown Church), who runs the Lighthouse community meal program, which operates Monday–Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. for anyone in need.

He also has been lodging homeless individuals at Teen Ranch through the winter months, although that program wraps up at the end of this week. Since Teen Ranch had no programs running, they offered up part of their space.

A total of 10 men have been through that program and six are currently being housed there.

“We just try to walk alongside them and help them with the very basic things. Because we’re a church ministry like the lighthouse, we’re trying to help them with the whole package, which is body, soul, spirit, taking care of them in every way we can. So not just food and housing, but just letting them see their value that they’ve got from God’s perspective too,” said McLean.

Fortunately, two of the individuals staying at Teen Ranch have good arrangements for proper housing when they leave at the end of the week but the other four’s future is less certain.

McLean said he’s trying to connect with Services and Hosing in the Province (SHIP), out of Brampton or support programs through the Dufferin of County, so they at least have somewhere to land.

Meanwhile, Mayor Brown noted that much of the public recognize that there is a men’s homelessness issue locally and something should be done to address it.

“I think people are kind of nodding their head and saying yes, we do need to do something. There’s been one gentleman who’s been walking around town pulling a bunch of shopping carts. It’s been going on for a couple of weeks now,” said Mayor Brown.

“I’ve tried to intervene and assist him, others have, it’s a difficult case. It doesn’t seem like he wants any assistance, but it’s brought the visibility of homelessness in front of people’s eyes, seeing him travel around town.”

A Needs Assessment Study is currently underway, being conducted by Guelph University, to determine the severity of homelessness in Orangeville. Mayor Brown said the study was launched by a group of community activists that have been on working on the issue prior to the announcement regarding Mayor Brown’s special committee.

He told the Citizen he expects the committee to form around the middle of July and the groundwork can begin to better address men’s homelessness locally.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.