20,000 Homes Campaign registry week reveals a few surprises
By Angela Long
Aug. 30, 2016
On Aug. 26, the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County released the results of the 20,000 Homes Campaign registry week during a community debrief at Coboconk Community Centre.
Between Aug. 22 and Aug. 24, nearly 40 volunteers and professional staff surveyed those who identified themselves as experiencing homelessness or without permanent housing throughout the service agencies, food banks, parks, and libraries of the region.
According to the Registry Week – Community Debrief, the goal of the survey, called the Vulnerability Index Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool, or SPDAT, was to evaluate and improve existing programs and services while continuing to lobby and educate about homelessness, conduct further research, and assist survey participants in finding permanent homes. The survey will also provide a template for assessing homelessness in the future.
In an email to the Echo, CEO of Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton Housing Corporation Hope Lee says, “Our intention is to have all agencies involved with the homeless population trained in the survey tool we used – called the SPDAT – so that we have a common assessment tool and a way to prioritize the most vulnerable.”
Registry week revealed a few surprises for Lee, including the number of individuals found struggling with homelessness in the area. Throughout the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County, a total of 112 people participated in the survey. Twenty-six individuals were identified as in need of immediate housing in Haliburton County. The local goal is to house 24 people by the campaign’s cut-off date.
Nearly 80 per cent of individuals surveyed throughout the region called places such as rooming houses, trailers, motels, and couches home. Six individuals reported living without any form of shelter, while 17 accessed the sole shelter in the region, A Place Called Home – a 19-bed facility in Lindsay that more than 200 people access annually. Nearly half those surveyed experienced what’s known as “chronic homelessness” – six or more months within the last year without any form of permanent housing – living an average of 2.25 years without a place to call home.
The majority of participants, 58 per cent, identified as male. The highest percentage of participants, nearly 50 per cent, identified as between the ages of 25 to 49. Fifteen per cent were over 60 years of age. Twenty-four per cent identified as Aboriginal or as having Aboriginal ancestry.
Lee was also surprised by the number of times participants relied on emergency rooms and ambulances, with 81 visiting the ER 246 times in the last six months, and 31 requiring an ambulance 58 times.
Not only does homelessness compromise physical health, the survey revealed the cost to an individual’s sense of well being, another worrisome result for Lee. Forty-two per cent of the participants responded “they have no planned activities other than just surviving that makes them feel happy or fulfilled,” says Lee.
Such numbers indicate the region needs to take immediate action, she says. “The results clearly show that doing nothing is using costly resources and not providing much of a quality of life for these individuals.”
Next steps will consider both cost-effectiveness and life quality. A 20K Homes Housing First Working Group has already been assigned to continue what registry week started.
“Registry week was just a starting point, a kick start to a permanent database we will maintain,” Lee says. “This isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.”
For a complete list of statistics and more information, stay tuned to the 20,000 Homes City of Kawartha Lake and Haliburton County Facebook page: www.20kHomesCKLH.ca or Twitter @20KHomesCKLH.