City survey identifies 77 homeless individuals in region

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
City survey identifies 77 homeless individuals in region
One of the tents setup at the homeless camp on the Cornwall side of the St. Lawrence River (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – The City of Cornwall was one of 47 municipalities that took part in a point-in-time enumeration to measure the level of homelessness in the community.

The point-in-time enumeration endeavoured to create a snapshot of homelessness on Oct. 27, 2021. On that day, Cornwall’s Human Services department conducted a questionnaire, phone in options inviting members of the public to share their experience with homelessness and they also worked with community organizations such as the Cornwall Police Service, Centre 105, the Agape Centre, the House of Lazarus and others to reach out to those experiencing homelessness.

As a result of the survey, the City aimed at creating a by-name-list for homelessness, which is a database containing names, contact information, household information and more aimed at helping those who are homeless.

The point-in-time enumeration identified 77 individuals who said that they were homeless on Oct. 27, 2021, 55 of which agreed to take the survey and 35 of which agreed to be included on the by-name-list.

Of those who said they were homeless 21 lived with family or a friend, four were paying to stay in a motel/ hotel, fiver were in a treatment centre, 11 were staying in a homeless shelter/ women’s shelter/ transitional shelter, four were in a motel/ hotel funded by city, five were living on street and one was living in their car.

Of those who completed the survey, 31 were male, 24 were female. Only four were under the age of 25, most, 18, were between ages 25 and 35, and two were over the age of 65.

The vast majority of those who completed the survey, 29, said that they were homeless because they could  not afford housing. Of those surveyed, six were fully employed, 19 were on ODSP, and nine had no income.

Meena Mullur of the City of Cornwall’s Human Services Department said that 95 per cent of respondents were single or a couple living together without children.

“There are multiple things that can lead you to that situation and you need to be stable in your life before looking for housing,” said Councillor Carilyne Hébert. “Just getting a job just isn’t that simple for so many people,” Hébert explained citing issued such as drug addiction and mental illness. “You need to be setup for success.”

Councillor Justin Towndale asked what a person who was homeless and living on the street could do on a night where it was very cold. On Monday night Jan. 10, temperatures were forecasted to plumet to minus 35 degrees Celsius.

“”It is supposed to drop as low as negative 35 tonight, and a number of people have indicated they have nowhere to go . . . would they go to the hospital,” Towndale asked.

Mullur explained that the Cornwall Police Service could refer someone to the City’s crisis bed program. She explained that having a homeless shelter in Cornwall would only be a temporary solution for most people without addressing the core issues of homelessness as she saw them.

“If we have more resources to increasing the housing stock or more rental assistance that might go a long way. That’s what I think,” she said.

The City of Cornwall recently broke ground on a new 77 unit affordable housing complex to be built on the corner of McConnell Ave. and Ninth St. that is expected to be completed early next year.

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