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Addressing homelessness and affordable housing at Simcoe County symposium

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Hope, housing, and health were the key themes the County of Simcoe and the Town of Midland focused on during a community safety symposium on Thursday.

The day started with a stakeholder session, bringing local service providers together.

Midland Mayor Bill Gordon emphasized the significance of forging partnerships and optimizing existing resources to combat issues like homelessness and the shortage of affordable housing.

"Our goal is to work with all the other service providers that either get people out of shelters and transitional housing and to unlock some that transitional housing in town and also find ways the mental health supports, the addiction supports, the homelessness prevention supports, matching all their services to community need," Gordon said.

Local service providers said they aim to use this platform to educate the public and town council about their programs.

"People may think there's a gap in our systems in town, but they don't know that we may be covering it or some of our other community partners may have that covered as well," explained Glen Lucas, the Wendat case management program supervisor.

The second half of the symposium is a panel discussion open to the general public, featuring various speakers, including the OPP.

Mina Fayez-Bahgat, general manager of Simcoe County Social and Community Services, emphasized the importance of engaging with the public and valuing their experiences and insights as essential components of an effective community response framework.

"I think, like I said, if there is a community issue, there should always be a community response," Fayez-Bahgat said.

"We're not expecting a solution or come up with any real solve-the-world's-problems tonight, but we're here to listen to the community," Gordon said.

The Midland mayor noted they would take all of the information and feedback from the public to create a community response sheet to provide tools, resources and best practices to support the community's vulnerable population.

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