Volume 95, Issue 90

Friday, March 22, 2002
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Film festival fiasco

Legal beagles chase their tails

Caravan of culture rolls through atrium

French knight forges community bond

Harpen new Alliance leader, Day now officially a loser

London says no to drugs, despite doctor's prescription

New homeless funding falls short

News Briefs

New homeless funding falls short

By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

A $1.5 million federal grant for projects undertaken by local homelessness groups will not alleviate the Forest City's homeless problem, according to the chair of a local coalition.

A recent announcement allocated the funding to upcoming projects by London's Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative, which falls under the federal National Homelessness Initiative.

To receive money from the SCPI fund, local communities were required to put together a community plan.

The efforts of local groups were key to London receiving the funding, said Sue Barnes, Liberal MP for London West.

"We couldn't do it if community groups didn't work together – it's about partnership," she said.

Despite the grant's intention to alleviate the hardship of the "absolutely homeless," it is only a short-term solution, said Kathy Gelinas, chair of the London Homeless Coalition.

"The only long-term solution is housing and this money is not enough to do anything about housing needs," Gelinas said.

A report released in October by a city-run task force – the Community Plan on Homelessness in London – revealed the extent of London's homeless problem.

"People still tend to think of London as a prosperous city, but the poverty rate is above the provincial average," Gelinas said.

Shelters in London are overflowing, she said. An analysis included in the CPHL report indicated a need for 56 per cent more beds.

London's Mission Services' men's hostel, which provides 79 beds, is currently over capacity every night, said Joan Fisher, its branch director for development and communications.

"We recently had a high of accommodating 112 men – we have had to convert extra lounge space and the chapel to dormitories," she said.

Fisher said SCPI funds received by Mission Services last year helped employ the staff necessary for the operation of eight "crash beds" for homeless people with mental illness.

While the new grant is extremely beneficial, there is a need for ongoing funding, she said.

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