An upcoming plan that aims to tackle homelessness in London, Ont., will make its much-anticipated debut at city hall late next month.
The plan was first announced by Mayor Josh Morgan during his first-ever State of the City address. He said it would create a “permanent and lasting system” to help homeless people.
Also attached to last week’s State of the City address was news of a $25 million donation in support of an unnamed local family’s plan. The family has offered an additional $5 million if community donations can reach that amount.
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A draft version of the plan was finalized at a Wednesday meeting of the Health and Homelessness Summit.
The summit consists of more than 200 people from more than 60 organizations from various sectors of the city and Wednesday marked its third meeting.
Care facilitator at London InterCommunity Health Center (LIHC), Jessica Manzara said she left the meeting feeling “pretty hopeful”.
“Part of the conversation today was about keeping our patients at the center of this work and really focusing on a barrier-free, scarcity-free responsive system. I believe we saw a project (plan) that has the potential to enable this for members of our community,” Manzara said.
During a presentation at the summit on Wednesday, Manzara shared her experience working on the frontlines of the homelessness crisis in London.
“My intention was to highlight the struggle and the beautiful work that happens at the front line and can often be missed in some ways,” Manzara said, adding that she hopes her words illustrate the need to provide frontline organizations with the resources they need.
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City staff will present the plan to city councilors on Feb. 28, when the group of politicians meet as the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee, according to City Manager Lynne Livingstone.
It will be the first time city councilors have had a look at the plan, as they and all levels of politicians have been asked not to attend summit meetings.
Livingstone says the request was made to foster an environment where summit members could have “very honest conversations about what we need to do.”
After seeking council approval on Feb. 28, Livingstone says staff will then seek additional support from the provincial and federal governments.
“Some of the things that we need additional resources to support are within the jurisdiction of the province or the federal government, so once we are in front of the council, we will be in front of the province and the federal government for some discussions “added Livingstone.
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Meanwhile, thousands of dollars have already been donated to the Health and Homelessness Fund for Change, a fund run by the London Community Foundation that seeks to meet the $5 million challenge launched by the anonymous family.
“We are very encouraged to know that after a few days of announcing the fund and doing no public relations and no communication, over 100 citizens have come forward and made donations,” said Marcus Plowright, lead volunteer. initiative.
“We even got some lovely messages that accompanied the donations – one from a 13-year-old who threw a birthday party the week after the mayor’s announcement and solicited funds from his friends.”
Following the unveiling of the plan, Plowright says Londoners can expect to see “a really big communications strategy” that aims to make the fund a permanent topic of discussion.
“Over the next few months, we’ll see that momentum build, we’ll have our priority list from the top, and we’ll start to make sure we’re using our huge resources in the fund to get things done very quickly, to create change in the community very quickly,” Plowright said.
“Most importantly, permanent change and permanent housing for those who need it.”
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While the plan ahead and ongoing donations have inspired optimism, LIHC frontline worker Manzara says it’s important Londoners remember what’s at stake for people experiencing homelessness.
“We have already had several deaths this year, we are in a crisis situation and we have people on our streets right now who are struggling, who are sick and who need action today,” Manzara said.
“It’s so important that we stay focused.”
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