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What you need to know about London’s proposed homeless hubs | CBC News

The much anticipated plan to help support the homeless population in London, Ont. will include 24/7 wrap around services in hubs that will cost $2.7 million each to run.

A new 46-page report to be discussed by councillors next week outlines the details of a plan that would see as many as 15 hubs open in the city with the aim of getting people into supportive housing. 

The goal is to open three to five hubs by the end of 2023 in different neighbourhoods, excluding Old East Village, Dundas Place and Richmond Row. 

“The system will support the highest acuity Londoners to move safely inside, help them get stabilized, wrap around them with supports, connect them to the right housing and help them stay housed,” the report said. 

“Every interaction is an active and intentional effort to meet people where they’re at, supporting an individual’s next steps toward housing.”

The City of London is working on its plan to respond to homelessness in the downtown core, which officials say has become worse over the past 12 to 18 months.
It’s estimated the number of people sleeping rough in London has doubled, from 966 in 2020 to 1,866 in October. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

The report is the work of community leaders from more than 70 local organizations who first started talking about the crisis on London’s streets in January. Since then, closed door meetings between partners and community consultations have taken place to help inform the plan.

Experts in the city say approximately 200 people have died since 2020, with some 2,000 individuals currently unhoused. The report said 49 per cent of people living rough have complex needs, including mental health and addictions issues. 

Location of hubs

In early July, the City of London and social services partners started operating services at three locations near homeless encampments, providing toilets, food and water, as well as housing support. 

One of four new service depots that began operating in Londont, Ont. The depots will set up for a few hours at four different locations along the Thames River near homeless encampments.
One of four new service depots that began operating in London on Tuesday. The depots will be set up for a few hours at four different locations along the Thames River near homeless encampments. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

The next step will be the hubs, which the report says will be opened near major roads and transit routes, and in areas that have existing emergency care and establishment zoning.

“The projected cost of each Hub is approximately $2.7 million per year in operating costs on average, which reflects 25-35 beds and a multidisciplinary team of supports.” 

If approved by council, the plan will be to use existing buildings, with a budget of $2 million to renovate the space. 

Another key criteria is that the hubs not be located close to elementary schools, splash pads, or directly adjacent to licensed day cares, parks, and not be within the interiors of residential neighbourhoods.

How hubs will work

If approved, the hubs will be open every day, around the clock, which will require frontline support workers and a management team. The current plan projects each hub will require six employees in the daytime, and five at night.

The working budget shows staff salaries will be $1.8 million for a year.

What staff will provide will be extensive, with collaboration across institutions, giving users access to immediate basic needs and stabilization support, the experts said. Some of those supports include: 

  • Food, showers, clothing.
  • Case workers for housing help.
  • Help accessing Ontario Works and employment programs.
  • Judicial services.
  • Medical staff, including a nurse and consulting physician
  • Access to acute and primary care.
  • Transitional and respite beds.
  • Transportation to appointments, as required.

The report said it will prioritize couples and families, Indigenous peoples, medically complex individuals, women and female-identifying individuals, and youth. 

What next?

A special Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee meeting is set for Monday where the report will be discussed by all councillors. 

The authors of the report describe an urgency to open hubs this year and say the procurement processes should be finalized in August, with contractors hired to start refitting buildings in the fall. 

Budgets are also incomplete with city officials saying discussion are underway at the provincial and federal levels for funding.

So far, council has approved $2.8 million be diverted from the Covid Recovery Network into the hubs. An anonymous London family has also committed $25 million, with an additional $5 million available to match community fundraising efforts. 


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