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Simcoe County receives $21 million boost in homelessness prevention funding

The County of Simcoe is receiving a much-needed funding boost of $21 million to help combat the homelessness crisis.

Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downie said the funding would help current and future homelessness prevention projects.

"The program will help build supportive housing, or help with some of the programs they have or even allow them to develop new programs as they see appropriate," Downie explained.

The funding boost is supported by mayors in Barrie and Orillia, who emphasized the critical nature of the situation and the need for all levels of government and support agencies to come together and find solutions.

"Inflation has had an impact on the entire population, and as a result, Ontario's homeless crisis is being felt across all cities, including Barrie," said Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall.

A new report puts the City of Barrie as Canada's seventh most expensive city to rent.

"In March 2020, Barrie one-beds were at $1460, and then in March 2023, last month, Barrie one-beds were at $1,880. So in the last three years, Barrie one-beds have grown 29 per cent," said spokesperson Crystal Chen.

In Orillia, the Sharing Place Food Centre changed its marketing approach, moving away from calling its rentals "affordable" to "available" due to market rents being nowhere near affordable.

The organization's executive director, Chris Peacock, noted that more people are finding themselves in desperate situations with rising inflation, some of whom have never sought support before.

"The first time they've ever walked through this door, they just need help," he said. "They can't afford food anymore. Even if they own their home outright, they can't afford utilities. They can't afford to fix their car."

The County of Simcoe has approved, in principle, the next steps of a new affordable housing project in Barrie that could see a 176-unit complex built along Rose Street, with estimated costs above $185 million.

The County is still discussing how to allocate the new funds to maximize its impact. Top Stories

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