St. Thomas houses one-third of its homeless population, making ‘a significant difference’

St. Thomas has reduced chronic homelessness by 30 per cent in the span of seven months by increasing outreach efforts and placing people into highly supportive housing. 126 people secured housing between July 2023 and January 2024 with the help of social services, emergency shelters, and community partners. It’s a major stride in supporting the city’s vulnerable population, said Mayor Joe Preston.

“We are so far just north of 60 units on supportive housing with wraparound services, and it’s made a significant difference,” Preston said. “If we can find housing first, we can actually deal with other things like mental health or addiction problems.” Charity developer Indwell first built a 15-unit supportive housing building, followed by the Queen Street Station consisting of 45-units, which opened last year. It took a large chunk of visible homelessness away from the community, Preston said.

Agencies compiled a ‘by-name’ list to identify people in chronic need of housing, why they’re homeless and their unique needs to help with a housing plan. The effort included city’s social services and housing departments, along with YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin, Canadian Mental Health Association, and the city’s local emergency shelter, the INN.

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