Volume 94, Issue 93

Friday, March 16, 2001


Atrium protest disrupts Israel Day

FTAA protesters get ready for summit

Homeless get funding

Teachers oppose criminal checks

Third meningitis scare lands boy in hospital

Crush the octogenarian uprising!


Corroded Disorder

Homeless get funding

By Dan Leinwand
Gazette Staff

The City of London has brought together funds from the federal and provincial governments in an attempt to eliminate homelessness in London, but at least one local advocate is skeptical of the government's financial committment.

London North-Centre Member of Parliament Joe Fontana has announced the federal government will provide $40,000 to help fund the Community Plan on Homelessness. Fontana's legislative assistant, Joe Galimberti, confirmed Fontana's enthusiasm for the idea.

"We are pleased to support such a worthwhile project, which will address specific needs of homeless people in the City of London," Fontana said. "This investment will be used to help facilitate the development of a community plan and is a concrete example of what can be achieved when we work together," he said.

According to Ben Billings, a senior planner with the City and Project Coordinator for the CPH, the provincial government will be matching the $40,000 granted by Ottawa. Billings also explained how London City Hall will be contributing to the project.

"The City of London is facilitating the project by providing services such as office space, staff, and administrative resources," he said. "The intent is to hire a consultant to help devise a 20-year strategy to alleviate homelessness in London," he explained.

Billings also said the plan is to attack two aspects of homelessness; visible homeless – those who are actually living out doors – and people who at risk of becoming homeless.

"People who have many issues and challenges to overcome and may be at risk of becoming homeless," he said. "We want to address those issues to avoid that situation."

Earl Birt, manager of the Salvation Army's hostel for homeless men in London, said he encouraged government financial support for alleviating poverty in London, but added more money is required to solve the problem.

"We welcome any investment into the homelessness issue by the government, but the amount of money they have offered is a drop in the bucket. We spend $40,000 a week to provide our current services," he said.

The hostel provides 80-100 men with shelter, food, and sanitation services each evening. The men can stay at the hostel anywhere from one night, and some of the men stay with the hostel for up to 10 years, he said.

The federal funds are coming from a $305 million homelessness project called the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative and the provincial government will be financing their grant through their own anti-homelessness initiative, Billings said.

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