LONDON, ONTARIO —London, Ontario, is taking significant steps to address homelessness in the city with a comprehensive plan that includes the establishment of homeless hubs. These hubs aim to provide 24/7 wrap-around services, offering vital support to individuals experiencing homelessness and connecting them to suitable housing. The proposal outlines the opening of 15 hubs, with the goal of launching three to five of them by the end of 2023. The plan comes in response to doubling the number of people sleeping rough in London since 2020, with experts estimating around 200 deaths and 2,000 unhoused individuals.
Each homeless hub is expected to cost $2.7 million annually to run and will be strategically located near major roads, transit routes, and existing emergency care facilities. This location selection ensures easy accessibility and streamlined connections to essential services for those in need. If approved, each hub will require a workforce of six daytime and five nighttime employees, offering a wide array of support services, including basic needs, housing assistance, medical care, transportation, and more.
The plan prioritizes certain vulnerable groups, such as families, Indigenous individuals, and youth, who will receive tailored support to address their unique challenges. The objective is to reduce preventable deaths and alleviate the pressure on healthcare and emergency services, thus promoting a safer and healthier environment for all members of the community.
The plan has already secured significant funding to finance the implementation of these vital homeless hubs. A total of $2.8 million has been approved by the Covid Recovery Network, with a generous $25 million pledge from a London family. Additionally, an extra $5 million can be raised through community fundraising efforts. This funding ensures the sustainability and effectiveness of the proposed hubs in supporting individuals on their journey from homelessness to stable housing.
To determine the ideal locations for these hubs, a report has outlined specific criteria, which include proximity to arterial roads and transit routes. The plan also aims to avoid certain locations near schools, childcare, and parks to ensure the safety and well-being of the broader community. The first hubs are set to be established within existing buildings with emergency care zoning, allowing for a more efficient and prompt launch of these essential services.
The timeline for implementing the proposed homeless hubs is ambitious, with the launch of an expressions of interest procurement process planned for August. Subsequently, council approval of the hub locations is expected in September, setting the wheels in motion for these much-needed facilities to start operating later this year.
Community involvement is a crucial aspect of this initiative, with public input being sought to select the best locations for the homeless hubs. Online surveys and in-person sessions were conducted between June 14 and June 26 to gather feedback from residents, ensuring that the hub placement and functionality align with the needs and aspirations of the local community. Mayor Josh Morgan emphasizes the importance of community engagement in developing the criteria for hub placement, ensuring that these hubs can significantly impact the lives of homeless individuals.
Overall, London's proposed homeless hubs represent a vital and compassionate response to the pressing issue of homelessness in the city. With a comprehensive range of services and support, these hubs offer hope and a pathway to stability for individuals in need, fostering a stronger and more resilient community for all. As the plan moves forward, the collaboration and determination of various stakeholders are set to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of London's homeless population.