Provincial politicians brought good news - and cash - when they visited London City Hall on Tuesday.
Three Progressive Conservative MPPs were on hand to announce an additional $8,459,400 going to London and Middlesex County's share of the Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supporting Housing Program. That total is 63 per cent higher than spending on the same program a year ago.
“Our government is on a mission to give people the tools they need to build a better life in Middlesex,” said Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, who is also the Minister for Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “From prevention programs to expanded shelters, this historic investment will ensure some of the most vulnerable members of our community have a roof over their heads and a place they can call home, so they can find meaningful jobs and build stronger communities for all of us.”
Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, was also on hand for the announcement.
"It's no surprise that we're talking a lot about housing and homelessness at the Ontario legislature," Clark said at the announcement. "I'm very fortunate to have so much cooperation not only from caucus and cabinet colleagues, but from the Premier."
The announcement was the regionally targeted portion of a $202-million investment in the program that was already announced in the provincial budget.
"It makes our total annual investment roughly $700-million on homelessness prevention as a government," Clark said.
The announcement was welcome news for municipal politicians, including London Mayor Josh Morgan and Middlesex County Warden Cathy Burdghardt-Jesson.
"They money will allow us to do two things. One, take some immediate action on the challenges we're facing in our core and with homelessness across the city, and two, begin the funding of our health and homelessness response, which is a plan we're absolutely moving forward with. This is a challenge that will define our council," Morgan said.
McNaughton also noted in his remarks that when he was growing up homelessness "was a downtown, big city issue. But its not anymore."
"Homelessness knows no borders," Burdghardt-Jesson said. "[The additional money] will make a significant difference to those more vulnerable and the unsheltered in Middlesex County."
According to the province, the new money is part of a 40 per cent province wide increase in homelessness prevention. Each year, $190.5 million will be allocated to the Homelessness Prevention Program, which is money that municipalities can use to help those searching for a place to live.
Another $11.5 million per year will go to the Indigenous Supportive Housing Program (ISHP), which focuses on "Indigenous-led, culturally appropriate long-term housing solutions and support services to Indigenous people experiencing or at risk of homelessness."