Sendzik hopes to move homelessness needle to zero
Public health to consider homelessness initiative
“The reality is, homelessness isn’t a static issue. We can’t control how someone ends up in a place of homelessness, whether it’s through trauma or drugs or addictions, or economic fallout, whatever it may be. But we have to make sure that the system we have in place helps breaks the homelessness cycle as quickly as possible.”
Niagara’s public health and social services committee members will consider becoming part of a recently implemented program called Built for Zero Canada at Tuesday’s meeting — a program Sendzik recommended joining during a discussion on the issue at the March 19 committee meeting.
“I believe in the structure of that program, Built for Zero, and I think staff have spent enough time examining it and understanding and putting the region forward, so we can adopt that concept,” Sendzik said.
“There are a lot of folks doing a lot of heavy lifting around homelessness, but sometimes you need that sort of outside perspective and something like Built for Zero really crystalizes how we’re going to tackle this homeless issue in a very structured and somewhat unconventional way.”
Sendzik said St. Catharines homelessness issues are being dealt with as well, in report to be presented at tonight’s city council meeting.
The city’s report is a “response to some of the downtown issues, illustrating what the city is doing and who we’re working with to try and address some of the issues that have been raised by businesses in the downtown area.”
Homelessness, he said, is among those issues.
Built for Zero Canada, a program launched by Calgary-based Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and based on a U.S. program that has so far helped eliminate chronic homelessness in three municipalities, uses real-time data based on individual needs of clients. So far, 38 municipalities across the country have become part of the initiative — including 21 in Ontario.
A report recommending becoming part of the initiative says the Region was one of eight municipalities invited to submit an application to become part of the program, giving homelessness services workers access to resources that would support the Region to achieve a functional end to chronic homelessness, exceeding its required targets set by federal and provincial funders.
Joining the program is expected to cost about $17,500 to participate this year, which can be covered by the existing homelessness services budget.
“Using data to drive how we make decisions and where our networks are going to be placed, and when you look at Built for Zero, a lot of it is data, a lot of it is collecting information on the individuals and then building a continuum of care around the individual, rather than trying to create a box and put everyone in a box,” Sendzik said.