For Immediate Release
January 31, 2022
Enumeration provides snapshot of homelessness in the District
Parry Sound, ON — On September 15, 2021, the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) conducted a district wide Homelessness Enumeration, which surveys those experiencing homelessness. Enumeration provides a community-wide measure of homelessness, identifying service needs and informing plans to prevent and reduce homelessness.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) oversees the enumeration process province wide, and typically requires Service Managers, such as the DSSAB, to enumerate every two years. One of the major changes to this year’s enumeration was the province’s requirement to shift to a new methodology for data collection. A Point-In-Time Count is now being used provincially, which is a one-day snapshot of homelessness in each community that contributes to a national picture and advances the knowledge on homelessness. When completed over subsequent years, it can also be used to track changes in the homeless population over time and measure progress in reducing it.
“We knew enumeration this time around was going to look very different for a few reasons”, said Pamela Nelson, Manager of Housing & Integrated Services at the DSSAB. “As directed by the Ministry, this year’s enumeration was to be completed within a 24-hour window across the entire district, compared to the last enumeration which occurred over several days and required the surveying of only a sample of the district (8 of 22 municipalities). We were also enumerating during a global pandemic which provided a host of other challenges. Our staff drew on our existing relationships with community partners to expand their reach and were able to modernize data collection methods to include an online survey, allowing our Community Relations Workers to move around remotely to each community and use iPads, laptops and cellphones to gather results.”
According to the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, the definition of homelessness is a situation in which an individual or family is without stable, permanent housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it. On September 15th, a total of 87 individuals were counted as being absolute homeless throughout the District of Parry Sound. Of these 87 individuals, 44 consented to completing the survey and 43 refused consent and/or were visually verified by their locations.
Those experiencing mental health issues continue to be disproportionately represented in the homelessness population at 54%. “The frequent occurrence of mental health issues among those experiencing homelessness in our community is an issue that needs to be heard and addressed,” said Tammy MacKenzie, Chief Administration Officer for the DSSAB. “Over the years we’ve developed great partnerships with some of our local health service providers like CMHA, Community Paramedicine, and our Nurse Practitioner Led Clinics. This is a good start, but there is a need for more investments in mental health and addictions supports throughout the district. We know those in need of mental health and addictions supports may face barriers to accessing the services they need, and more work is needed at all levels to continue breaking down these barriers and provide one door for integrated services with community partner connections.”
Of note was the finding that 75% of those surveyed were on extremely limited income as recipients of social assistance, either Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability benefits (ODSP). With the high rate of housing throughout the province, it’s clear that those on limited incomes are finding it increasingly difficult to find and maintain appropriate housing. The amount of assistance someone can receive from Ontario Works depends on family size, housing costs and income, and rates are set by the Ontario Works Act and regulations under the direction of the Ontario Government’s Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. To see more results from this year’s Enumeration, please visit psdssab.org/enumeration.
In addition to the Point in Time Count, the DSSAB, as Service Manager for the District, now also manages a By Name List. This live tool is a real time list of all people experiencing homelessness in our community who would like to receive assistance, provided the individual signs a confidentiality agreement and agrees to the services. Implementation of the BNL list can help to clarify the immediate needs for shelter and safety, as well as longer-term housing and support needs, of people experiencing homelessness. It can also help connect people to appropriate supports and services through better service coordination.
“Conducting enumeration across the entire district is an incredible feat to have accomplished in a 24-hour period, and I extend my gratitude to our staff and our community partners for their efforts,” said Rick Zanussi, DSSAB Board Chair. “I’d also like to thank those who provided consent and worked with us to complete the enumeration survey. These findings, along with the creation of the By-Names List, will be extremely helpful in identifying the broader needs and service barriers faced by those experiencing homelessness.”
If you or someone you know is without a home, struggling to pay your heating costs, mortgage or rent, you may qualify for financial assistance through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI).
For more information, please call (705) 746-7777 Ext. 5209 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For a list of Mental Health Resources, please visit https://www.psfht.com/pages/mental-health-resources
For more information, please contact:
(705) 746-7777 ext. 5264