Just how much from the City’s levy is ear marked to help combat homelessness?

Protestors have pitched Teepee's and tents on city hall property, Sault Ste. Marie, October 28, 2021 (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

In our ongoing focus on Homelessness, Addiction and Mental Health we continue to have multiple conversations with high-level officials about the issues currently faced by our community.

Ward 1 Councillor, Luke Dufour, spoke with us last week and has advised that our findings, regarding what the City allocates towards homelessness in terms of funding, is inaccurate.

Our calculations, seen in a previous story, indicated that the City only put forward $460,000 to combat homelessness in Sault Ste. Marie.

Dufour further advised that the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board directly bills the city over $10 million a year for housing and homelessness.

DSSAB 2021 Budget for Housing – DSSAB Report

“Those two things go together,” stated Dufour in a phone conversation with SaultOnline.com. “That responsibility was downloaded by the province to the municipality years ago… we now directly pull from the levy to cover that cost.”

According to the 2021 DSSAB budget, pages 10-14, the organization did bill the City’s levy for $11,237,071 in 2021, under the subsection of Housing Services.

The housing section of their budget is actually $16,653,821.00, but various alternate sources of revenue reduce it to the above number.

Of that $16.6 million, housing providers, rent support and administration seem to cost the most, coming in at roughly $8.8, $2.9 and $2.3 million respectively.

DSSAB Budget shows Homelessness mentioned twice.

If you search the document for the word “homelessness”, it comes up exactly twice.

Once, in reference to the subsection Rent Support/Strong Communities where it lists a cost of $54,000.

The second mention come in under Community Homelessness Prevention Initiatives (CHIP) where it reads that there is $1.45 million provided under the 100% program.

DSSAB Budget shows Homelessness mentioned twice.

The CHIP program according to 211 Northern Ontario is designed to:

  • Assist individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness to meet certain housing needs
  • Provide financial assistance for rental arrears and energy-related emergencies

The plan covers eligible energy arrears to a maximum of two months, as well as the security deposit and reconnection fees related to natural gas, oil and other forms of energy. It further covers eligible costs to a maximum of two months of rental arrears.

According to the DSSAB budget, the 100% program is completely funded by external sources, not the city taxpayer.

However, at least a portion of the $54,000 dollars is funded by the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie.

The $8.8 million is provided to Federal, Provincial, Urban Native and Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation to provide subsidized housing in our community.

However, our community has a wait list of over 1,000 individuals for these housing opportunities. The exact number of homeless individuals in our community is as yet quantified, however the results of a recent survey are expected to be revealed at the next DSSAB board meeting on November 25, 2021.

Thank-you for choosing SaultOnline/ONNTV as your source for news and stories in Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding area.