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Grey County purchases Owen Sound motel to tackle homelessness surge

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Grey County purchased a motel in Owen Sound for emergency housing as numbers in the homeless community continue to skyrocket.

"It's really important to Grey County Council that we solidify our position in trying to support our most vulnerable residents. We've seen an increase in need in homelessness in the area, and purchasing the motel provides operational savings that we need to deliver a higher level of service," says Grey County Housing Programs Manager Josh Gibson.

The County purchased the 22-room building for $3,050,000.

Gibson says it will provide roughly 10,000 nights of accommodation yearly, nearly double what the County could offer previously.

"The motel space is going to be very different from traditional congregate shelter settings. We feel the motel really provides a level of dignity. People have their own space, their own washroom facilities," says Gibson.

Annette Pedlar is the executive director of Safe and Sound, a local drop-in centre for unsheltered community members. The County provided funding for the centre to be open 24 hours, seven days a week, until March 31.

"Daily, we see about 70 people. I started my role here about a year ago, and that number has almost doubled in that time," says Pedlar.

Pedlar says they often act as an overflow space when other supportive housing units are full. She says they will work with the County to move individuals into the motel program.

"We have a close relationship with the workers at the County. Daily we send who stayed here overnight the previous night and to see if any of them are eligible to get into the program," says Pedlar.

The County says it expects to see between 350 to 400 unique individuals accessing the program within the year.

"These could be our brothers, our sisters, our children, and to keep them alive is the number one goal. To be able to provide emergency housing overnight in cold winters especially is so important," says Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy.

A bylaw to finalize the sale will come to council for approval on February 8, and the County will officially close on the motel on February 16.

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