| Jul 17, 2019

Southern Frontenac Community Services has stopped providing services through a program that is designed to find housing for homeless residents of Frontenac County and help those who are precariously housed to stabilise or improve their situation.

“It was a regrettable decision that we had to make to stop offering this service,” said SFCS Executive Director David Townsend, “but we had no real choice because we could not maintain the proper staffing for the program. It is an important service to the community but we were no longer able to provide it. It was also a drain on our resources as an organisation.”

The Homelessness Prevention Program in Frontenac County was set up as part of the 10-year homelessness prevention strategy by the City of Kingston.

In 2014, SFCS took the lead, along with Rural Frontenac Community Services and Addictions and Mental Health KFLA, in answering a request for proposal to provide services in Frontenac County. The bid from the three agencies was successful and the program started up in 2015. It was tweaked a couple of years later, after being reviewed by City of Kingston staff.

Last year, The United Way of KFLA provided funding for a part-time youth homelessness prevention worker based in Sydenham and another part-time worker based in Sharbot Lake.

“The program was most successful when we had social workers who understood the needs in our rural area,” said Townsend, “but our ability to keep our workers was hampered by our own pay grid,” said Townsend.

Qualified workers can make more money doing similar jobs in the City of Kingston than they can working for Southern Frontenac Community Services.

“It would not be fair to the rest of our employees if we paid the homelessness prevention workers on a different scale,” he said.

The situation came to a head this spring, when 2 workers left for other jobs in the region and an attempt to recruit new workers proved unsuccessful.

Townsend said that Home Based Housing, the agency that runs the homelessness prevention program in Kingston, is providing some service in Frontenac County. People seeking service are encouraged to call them directly at 613-542-6672

“We are concerned about the impact in Central and North Frontenac,” said Louise Moody, Executive Director of Rural Frontenac Community Services, based in Sharbot Lake. ‘We are continuing to offer services for youth at risk of homelessness through the United Way program, but there is a fair bit of need in our communities for the kind of services that this program offered.”

A new request for proposal for the provision of the service in Frontenac County will be prepared in the coming weeks, Moody has been informed.

“For our agency, it would be best if the territory was split and we could prepare a proposal to serve the region from Verona north, but we understand that this will not happen. AS far as we know, it will be same territory as it was before, all of Frontenac County. We do serve all of the county with the EarlyOn program, so we know the territory, but it would be a stretch for us. Our board will decide if we can reasonably provide this service as well, and if we have the administrative capacity to take on another program.”

In the meantime, Frontenac County residents who are homeless, at risk of becoming so, or living in inadequate housing, do not have the kind of direct support in navigating the system or accessing resources, that has been available over the last five years.

The City of Kingston is undertaking a five-year review of the 10-year homelessness prevention program, which had the elimination of homelessness as its stated goal.

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