At the City Council meeting Monday, March 6, Safe 'n' Sound Homelessness Initiative will make the following deputation.
The Owen Sound Hub looks forward to your thoughts.
To: The Council of the City of Owen Sound
We are approaching Council with a request : help us improve our city.
Safe 'n' Sound is the frontline, street-level social justice agency trying to improve the lives of the lowest income people in Owen Sound.
This is what we do :
1. Provide emergency housing for homeless people; we have 4 units above our dining hall, housing 7 people currently.
2. Operate a Housing Crisis Hotline that assists people needing emergency housing after hours when all other agencies are closed.
3. Provide mid-day meals to an average of 50 people per day, Monday to Friday.
4. Function as a drop-in center for 4 hours per day, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.
5. Maintain an Emergency Food Pantry for people who have run out food at home and are unable to use the food bank (which allows only one visit per month).
6. Provide peer counselling and crisis intervention to an average of 5 people daily, free of charge.
7. Operate a clothing donation 'store' that receives donated clothes and distributes them, free of charge.
8. Provide laundry and shower facilities, free of charge.
9. "Starting Over" resettlement assistance for people just released from hospitalization, treatment or custody, providing basic furnishings, free of charge.
10. Supply our kitchen and dining hall to other community groups who provide meals on weekends.
11. Health programs provided by our community partners include a weekly foot care clinic, the Harm Reduction Program, and a seasonal Public Health immunization clinic.
12. Supervise the Clean Needle Exchange Program.
13. Safe 'n' Sound attracts a wide range of volunteers freely offering a wide range of short-term programs, from art sessions with free supplies to beginner's yoga.
We do all this with 1 low paid, ¾ time co-ordinator/counsellor and 4 other ODSP employees paid for 1 hour/day for 4 days/week.
As much as possible, we engage the people who use our services in the provision of the services, as volunteers in the kitchen, in the Donation Store, in renovations, on the Board of Directors, etc..
Currently, our core funding is $2,000 per month provided by Grey County Housing, supporting our rent-geared-to-income residential program. However, our work expands in direct response to the community needs that we see and experience daily.
Presently, we receive no funding from the City of Owen Sound. Yet over 90% of our participants reside in the city. Therefore, we are asking the City to match the County's contribution. We are requesting a monthly grant of $2,000 deposited into a dedicated food account.
50 meals per day X 5 days per week = 250 meals per week X 4 weeks = 1,000 meals per month. We are asking the City to contribute $2 per meal. That $2 will enable us to increase the quality and quantity of our meals tremendously. We will be able to buy wholesale, rather than retail. The grant will be used in only one way – to feed our poorest neighbours.
The people who eat with us are often coping with multiple health issues simultaneously. If an individual is receiving Ontario Works benefits, their income is $706 per month. Rooms to rent average $500 per month. That leaves 69 cents a day for everything else. Their health cannot improve on a diet of stale-dated white bread, pasta and rice. They need what they can't afford and what they can't get at the food bank –fresh vegetables and fruit. $2,000 per month would mean we can buy wholesale and stretch those dollars far.
We are asking you, now, for a little bit of help. But you may well ask us, what is Safe 'n' Sound doing for the City?
- We are keeping panhandling on 2nd Ave down to a rarity.
- We are preventing people from searching through garbage cans for food.
- No people are pushing shopping carts full of their belongings.
- Very few people sleep outside, on park benches, or live in cardboard boxes under
We keep people off the streets, for at least a few hours a day (but we'd love to be open longer!). We would do a lot more with Council's full bore support.
Instead of a soup kitchen, we could work towards operating a restaurant where meals cost a buck or two and where we could train our volunteers, giving them a ticket to real jobs, in Owen Sound or elsewhere. If the City gave us another building, we could operate a recycling center that receives furniture, appliances,equipment and material for repair and re-distribution as an important waste and poverty reduction strategy.
We could renovate more buildings into rent-geared-to-income housing and train more people.
Put us on the radar, put us on the agenda, put us on a pedestal. Social Justice is the most important Pillar of Prosperity, we are told.
Safe 'n' Sound will visibly improve the City with Council's support.
The Board of Directors of Safe 'n' Sound.
Leon Frisch, Chair; Brian Thomas, Samantha Panczak, Brandon Clarke, Grant Pattullo.