THUNDER BAY — The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board has won the Local Municipal Champions Award from the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association.
It's for DSSAB's High Needs Homeless Initiative, set up in 2016 to identify the chronically homeless and to quickly find housing for these individuals with adequate supports in place.
DSSAB CAO Bill Bradica said he is proud of the staff involved in the program.
"Everyone has done a beautiful job of implementing it as a team which has led to many people in our District being housed who may have fallen through the cracks," Bradica said.
As part of the homelessness project, DSSAB added a new High Needs Homeless priority category to its housing wait list, and partnered its transitional outreach and support worker with an Ontario Works program caseworker.
After assessment of their ability to obtain housing without intervention, accommodation is found for priority clients, and community partners are engaged to provide services such as mental and physical health management, addictions assistance, and financial literacy.
Followup support is also provided when the risk of homelessness has lessened.
According to DSSAB, since the launch of the program, 68 participants have been placed on the rent-geared-to-income High-Needs Homeless housing wait list, and 52 of those people have been successfully housed with zero evictions.
A second TOSW team has now been set up to expand the program to district communities to serve clients of the Ontario Disability Support Program and non-social assistance recipients.
A spokesperson for DSSAB has told Tbnewswatch there are a considerable number of "hidden homeless" people in outlying centres.