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Innovative rent subsidy program in Simcoe County aims to combat homelessness

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As part of the County of Simcoe's 10-point homelessness prevention strategy, it has partnered with Empower Simcoe to support vulnerable residents in the region with a new community rent subsidy program.

"This new program will provide rent subsidies for low-to-moderate-acuity individuals and families who are or are at risk of experiencing homelessness. The rent subsidies would enable individuals and families to either obtain or retain affordable permanent housing," said Andrew Scavarelli, director of Ontario Works with the County of Simcoe.

Officials said the rent subsidies range from $800 to $1,000 and are calculated based on the recipient's income.

"The rent subsidy program is based on whether the individuals qualify and if the rental properties qualify as well. So, individuals will talk with our housing access workers to complete the assessment and see if they're qualified," said Luke Lynn, Empower Simcoe supports and services director.

Both organizations involved said this program couldn't have come at a more critical time.

"We know rising costs are being experienced everywhere; there's a lot of individuals who are really struggling to make ends meet," said Scavarelli.

"With the current housing market, increases in rental rates, the increase in people experiencing homelessness in Simcoe County and affordable rates harder to reach, this program will help individuals and families access affordable housing," said Lynn.

Empower Simcoe said it hopes to support roughly 120 households in the first year, with hopes to reach even more the following year.

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