Sudbury, Ont., more than doubles number of workers who find housing for city’s homeless people

The City of Greater Sudbury has more than doubled the number of client navigators on staff who are meant to help people experiencing homelessness find housing.

Gail Spencer, the city’s manager of housing stability and homelessness, said they hired four client navigators earlier this month and plan to hire four more in January. The city had three people in the role before the new hires.

Spencer said the province’s Homelessness Prevention program has provided the city with the funding needed to hire the new client navigators on two-year contracts.

“They come from a housing and homelessness perspective, or a housing-first perspective, where their role is to work with people who are more vulnerable and need additional support to really figure out what they need to do to stay housed,” she said about the client navigators.

Gail Spencer is the manager of housing stability and homelessness for the City of Greater Sudbury. (Warren Schlote/CBC)

More people actively homeless

That work can include helping people get copies of their ID, help them apply for housing and supports like the Ontario Disability Support Program, and getting them added to the city’s by-name list.

The city shares the list of unhoused people with 17 partner agencies to help them find a place to live, and better share resources and support.

Spencer said that as of last week, there were 196 people on the list who are actively homeless in the community.

That number is up from 168 people who were actively homeless on Jan. 1, 2023.

Spencer said there are several reasons for the increase, including a lack of affordable housing in the community, the cost of rent increasing and the opioid crisis affecting people’s ability to stay housed. 

Some people have also come to Sudbury from other communities, Spencer said, and end up homeless when they arrive.

She did add the city has projects in the works to add more affordable housing, including the Lorraine Street project, which will include 40 new units.

“The development of housing itself is something that takes time, it’s not a quick win all the time.” 

A smiling woman with glasses.
Evie Ali, executive director of the Go-Give Project, says Sudbury needs more affordable housing to help people experiencing homelessness. (Submitted by Evie Ali)

Concerns ahead of winter

Evie Ali, executive director of the Go-Give Project, a volunteer organization that supports people who suffer from substance abuse, said Sudbury’s housing shortage is a big concern ahead of the winter.

“I certainly think that it’s commendable that the municipality is taking action, however, I definitely think there are some concerns about the practical impact that the client navigators could have before winter,” she said.

Ali said people experiencing homelessness in the city have lost fingers and toes due to frostbite, during the winter.

She said there aren’t enough beds in the city’s warming centres to accommodate the nearly 200 people the city has identified as homeless.

Ali said the Go-Give Project’s mobile outreach team is preparing for the winter with seasonal supplies like emergency blankets and hand warmers to help people experiencing homelessness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *