London Mayor Backs New Hubs to Aid Homeless, Despite Opposition

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Josh Morgan, the Mayor of London, Ontario, is expressing his support for the proposed locations for low-barrier service hubs, aiming to help the city’s homeless population. He has voiced his backing for the recent Request for Proposals (RFP) results outlining potential sites and coordinating organizations.

Detailed in a report by city hall, proposals have been submitted to establish and operate the first trio of low-barrier service hubs. These hubs are being endorsed by the Civic Administration with a recommendation that two of them be dispersed across two separate locations. These hubs’ main focus will be on aiding vulnerable communities such as the Indigenous, youth, women, and those identifying as female.

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The proposed hubs, their leading agencies, and locations are:

  • Atlohasa Family Healing Services, which is set to open an Indigenous hub at 550 Wellington Rd. in December 2023. The cost to build this facility is $1,303,750, with an annual operating cost of $2,118,146.

  • Youth Opportunities Unlimited, designated to open a hub at 329 Richmond St. and 800 Commissioners Rd. E. with an annual operating cost of $1,317,500 (year one), and $1,983,800 (year two). The former will open in December 2023 while the latter is projected for May 2024.

  • The Canadian Mental Health Association Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services will operate a hub for women and female-identifying individuals at 556 Dundas St. and 705 Fanshawe Park Rd. W. with a total annual operating cost of approximately $4 million.

However, there is some opposition, with Councillor Susan Stevenson expressing disappointment at the initiative’s scope, considering the number of beds inadequate for the city’s high-acuity homeless population. Her concern centers on the pressure potentially placed on the city’s Winter Response to Homelessness initiative.

This opposition to the proposals comes after a series of public meetings were held to discuss the hub criteria approved by the council. Some proposed locations seem not to have met all of these criteria, including intended completion dates and the necessary rezoning of 705 Fanshawe Park Road W. Yet, the commitment to locating the initial hubs outside of Richmond Row, Dundas Place, or the Old East Village has been upheld, according to Civic Administration.

Once all proposed hubs are open and the 73 beds are filled, the annual operating budget will total $8.1 million. The chosen locations will be offered two-year contracts with the option for four one-year extensions.

This plan’s ultimate goal is to construct 600 supportive housing units along with up to 15 low-barrier hubs. The ambition is to unveil the first 100 housing units and up to five hubs by December 2023. However, time for London residents to input on the proposed locations is quickly dwindling.

Residents are encouraged to contact their councillors and voice their opinions before council finalizes its decisions at a special meeting on October 5. Public participation in this meeting is not permitted; therefore, individuals are urged to seize their chance to influence the decision through direct communication with their councillors.