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Ending homelessness is a collaborative effort – it takes a community

Using a structured, supportive and collaborative approach to ending chronic homelessness

With the holiday season fast approaching and the frigid cold weather already looming, the concern for people experiencing homelessness is intensified.

How will they stay warm? What kind of harm will come to the unsheltered? What can we do individually or collectively to help? Not all questions can be answered simply, but a multi-pronged approach in line with a national change effort guides us to more solutions.

Most Canadians are looking forward to spending the holiday season with loved ones, enjoying good company, food and warmth. Sadly, many Canadians will not experience this same joy as they are without shelter, often living and sleeping in sub-zero temperatures.

In October 2021, the District of Nipissing conducted a Point in Time Count (PiT) of homelessness that revealed there were 300 individuals living in homelessness. People experiencing homelessness during the 2021 PiT count were asked if they would consent to having their information added to the District’s first By Name List (BNL) and shared between housing and homelessness providers that are part of Coordinated Access Nipissing (CAN).

CAN is made up of a group of local agencies working together to implement a new, collaborative way of providing access and service for individuals or households experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The CAN process includes access points where immediate needs are first triaged and addressed, followed by an assessment that digs deeper into the individual’s circumstances, longer-term needs, barriers and goals. This information can then be used to match the individual to the appropriate and available supports, services and housing.

Securing permanent housing for someone can sometimes take several attempts and may first require stabilization by attending to any physical and mental health needs that require support, even once the person finds their permanent home. This stabilization and ongoing support requires the collaboration, services and expertise of multiple community partners, including those involved in CAN.

As of June 2022, the Nipissing District became part of a national change effort, known as Built for Zero Canada (BFZ), joining a core group of leading communities all working together to end chronic homelessness. As a BFZ community, the Nipissing District is committed to using a structured, supportive and collaborative approach to ending chronic homelessness that focuses on optimizing local homeless systems, accelerating the adoption of proven practices and driving continuous improvement to the supports in the system.

Anyone, through a series of unfortunate life events, can become homeless.

What would you do if someone you cared about found themselves in a seemingly hopeless situation? What if they needed something you are not equipped to provide? Now, there is a coordinated community of services and supports working in collaboration to find solutions, break down barriers and define community needs in real time.

Working with the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH), Nipissing District will start setting goals to reach functional zero for Chronic Homelessness by 2025.