Serena Anagbe / Photo Editor
Boarded up home in Brantford.
MPP Will Bouma announced in April that Brantford-Brant will receive $1.8 million from the province as a step towards resolving the homelessness issue in the city. Shelters have yet to receive the funding.
“Nothing has been received yet, but is anticipated to be released by the end of the year,” said Katie Wilkes, the operations manager at the Rosewood House in Brantford.
The City of Brantford is responsible for providing funding to local services such as housing resource centres, emergency shelters and help with finding affordable housing.
These include four emergency shelters, such as the Rosewood House, the Salvation Army Housing Resource Centre, Nova Vita and the Youth Resource Centre. Other local organizations include three transitional Indigenous housing programs and two transitional housing programs also open to non-Indigenous people, like St. Leonard’s Community Services.
Even with these services provided, Wilkes said, “There is not enough funding by the city. Because of the lack of funding, there aren’t enough services to support the homeless or those who are becoming homeless.”
According to a city report discussed by the Brantford Social Services Committee in May, there are approximately 118 bed spaces available through the Homelessness Prevention Program. Of those, 68 are in emergency shelters and about 50 are in permanent spaces.
Out of the 1,753 individuals who used the emergency shelter system from February 2021 to 2023, about 823 people were turned away from emergency shelters due to the unavailability of beds. There are still 453 individuals experiencing homelessness in the Brantford-Brant area.
“We do not have enough beds, we are always at capacity and have to turn away people,” said Wilkes when asked about the services provided at the Rosewood House. “I’ve been with Rosewood House for eight years, and part of the issue is that it is not just individuals, but it’s also families.”
When asked about what needs to be done better with the incoming funding from the province, Wilkes said, “We need more affordable housing.”
The affordable housing and housing resource centres provide services to help individuals dealing with landlord-tenant issues. Wilkes said there needs to be more addiction and mental health services as the wait to access affordable housing is still “really high.”
“There is also no support for people who are transitioning back into the real world, like offenders and addicts,” said Wilkes. “They have to return back to homeless shelters because they can not afford housing today.”
The release of the funding is crucial to provide better and more services to individuals facing homelessness in the Brantford-Brant area.
This article was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 2 on Thursday, Oct. 5.