Today, Niagara Region hosted author and renowned speaker Iain De Jong for a discussion on homelessness in post pandemic Niagara.
The event, held at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre, brought together Regional, area municipal representatives, and a broad cross section of community partners to share insights on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on an already vulnerable population.
Homelessness is a complex issue that requires integrated and best practice approaches and many partners to address this in a meaningful way. The pandemic has impacted individuals experiencing homelessness significantly adding to the challenges to support individuals in the journey to exit homelessness.
Iain is an acclaimed professor, researcher, consultant, coach, and positive disruptor known for his work toward ending homelessness in Canadian and U.S. communities, and has engaged with local partners in strategy, planning, and educating to move towards positive social change in Niagara.
This specific event focused on the impact of the pandemic on those who are homeless, the contributions and accomplishments of the current system of providers and shared information on best practices as we continue the transformation of the Niagara homelessness system to align with the leading practices to effectively address homelessness. The Region and its community partners look forward to continuing to advance the system, using leading practices and data, to ensure our limited resources are leveraged to do the best work possible for the homeless of our community.
During the event, Regional Chair Jim Bradley shared his thoughts on how Niagara needs to take action on the homelessness challenge - by growing together, supporting existing Regional initiatives, and continuing to embrace a Built for Zero mindset.
Niagara Region and its community partners have made important strides in addressing homelessness in our communities through enhanced services and new initiatives. These accomplishments are a result of all agencies working collaboratively, particularly focused on the goal of ending chronic homelessness. Niagara has been recognized by Built for Zero Canada as having achieved the important step of a Quality By Name list, and is now developing a Coordinated Access system for the Region. Niagara piloted a housing focused shelter and developed a data strategy.
"As we continue to take steps to address homelessness in Niagara, I look forward to innovating with our partners across Niagara in an effort to help end homelessness. It will take all of us working together, focusing on best practice, in order to ensure as many people as possible have a place to call home. It is my hope that we can all learn from today’s session, being open to new ways of tackling this complex challenge."
~ Jim Bradley, Regional Chair
"The pandemic has had devastating impacts on homelessness throughout the country. In Ontario, rental housing costs have skyrocketed while social assistance rates have remained stagnant. The efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness are more important than ever, and Niagara Region along with its talented and dedicated community partners have demonstrated they are up to the challenge. Frontline staff in community non-profits do not receive nearly enough recognition for their heroic efforts during this challenging time, for without them and their daily efforts to end homelessness, the situation in the Region would be much more dire. The dedicated and talented Regional staff, with support of elected officials, have demonstrated that in the midst of adversity it is possible to innovate, increase various forms of housing, and stay true to the mission of ending homelessness."
~ Iain De Jong, President and CEO, OrgCode Consulting Inc.
"The pandemic has impacted how Niagara Region, community partners and service providers provide homelessness services. I thank everyone for coming together today to understand the reality of life for our homeless residents post pandemic. Thank you to Iain De Jong for joining us yet again to share his insight on how we can work together as a team to continue to support those most vulnerable in our communities."
~ Adrienne Jugley, Commissioner, Community Services