Tim Meeks Published on: April 11, 2019

Additional provincial program funding will help with the affordable housing crisis and address homelessness in Hastings County.

The Investment in Affordable Housing for Ontario program provided more than $248,000 to the county it was announced at Wednesday’s community and human services committee meeting.

Committee director Erin Rivers said there was a surplus of funding at the government level and the county was fortunate enough to have a previously approved project that qualified for additional funding.

Rivers said the government contacted the County in December and asked if they had previously approved affordable housing development projects that qualified for additional funding and the 17-unit Springale Development Inc. development and the Altogether Affordable Housing Corporation on Great St. James Street, with 10 units originally marked as affordable housing, qualified.

Springale Development had a project approved in the current fiscal year, which made them eligible for additional funding, and the county was successful in securing an additional $248,000. That meant in the first phase of their Great St. James Street development they were developing 17 units, 10 earmarked as affordable housing. The extra money will allow that development to increase the affordable units to 13 from 10.

The Home for Good Project, a 40-unit, staffed residence currently under construction on the west side of Sidney Street just north of College Street West, will also benefit from the additional funding.

In other funding news, the City of Belleville received approximately $1.1 million over the next five years to address homelessness issues in the community under the Community Capacity and Innovation funding stream of Reaching Home, Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy.

That funding will allow the county and city to design and implement a coordinated access system, a new program requirement they will need to have in place by March 31, 2022. It will help communities shift toward a more coordinated and system-based approach to addressing homelessness in the community, Rivers said.

Under the system, families and individuals experiencing homelessness or are at-risk of homelessness are directed to community-level access points, where community agencies will use a common assessment tool to evaluate the need and prioritize them for housing support services.

The additional funding will allow staff to be able to do an RFP (Request for Proposal) process and hire someone to take the lead to get the governance and data infrastructure to put the measurement tool in place, Rivers said. The Community Advisory Board will complete that work with help from Hastings County as a community entity.

The county received an additional $35,000 under the Rural and Remote Communities funding stream of Reaching Home so they can continue the Counselling, Housing and Maintenance Program (CHAMP) and the previously funded Rent Bank project, among others.

The extra funds, which were previously applied for, allows for more flexibility, since the county can use those dollars outside Belleville, which is already a designated community, in rural areas throughout the county.

All of the funds need to be invested by March 31, 2020.