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BEHIND THE SCENES: Roadmap to end homelessness in Sudbury has $350M price tag's Jenny Lamothe takes us behind the scenes


In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.

These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here

Today's spotlight is on's Jenny Lamothe, whose story 'Roadmap to end homelessness in Sudbury has $350M price tag' was published on May 28.

Here is the original story if you need to catch up:

A report to council will discuss what’s being called the Roadmap To End Homelessness By 2030, a plan that features an estimated cost of approximately $350 million. 

The estimated costs, which would be a mix of federal, provincial and municipal funds, include $322 million in capital and start-up costs, $13.6 million annually in operating costs and $11 million annually in additional rent supplements.

The report shows that help is needed. 

“The trendline for homelessness in Greater Sudbury estimates the homeless population will reach 741 individuals by 2030, a 205-per-cent increase from December 2023,” reads the report. Trendlines were also developed to determine the expected increase by each acuity level. Acuity levels indicate the level of support the person would require to obtain and maintain permanent housing and prioritizes the individual for the most appropriate support services. 

“The most significant increase is expected in the high acuity level, with total homelessness in this category estimated to reach 611 individuals by 2030,” continues the report. 

The report stems from a motion tabled in late September, 2023, led by Ward 5 Coun. Mike Parent, which directed municipal staff to develop a strategy to end homelessness by 2030.

The strategy, the motion explains, will ”include financial and staffing requirements to transition services from temporary shelters to transitional and permanent supported housing.”

Much of the report is offering council a fulsome look at the homelessness crisis in Sudbury, including contributing factors, existing systems, current funding models and opportunities, 

There is also an examination of the factors contributing to homelessness, including family breakdown, mental health issues, financial crises, substance use, discharge from institutions including corrections and from the child welfare system, as well as substance use. 

There is also a look at the current demographics of Sudbury’s homeless population and currently available programs.

The report also details current Greater Sudbury strategies, including the 10-year housing and homelessness plan, and the housing supply strategy, and offers information from what appears to be the most recent review of the emergency shelter system (2018) and the social housing revitalization plan (2018.) The report includes the disclaimer “Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the housing and homelessness system, the environment has changed significantly since the review was completed.” 

The report also updates all the funding and shelter opportunities currently available to the city staff for social services and housing stability, as well as any support for “non-recurring experiences of homelessness” and focuses on supporting those who can maintain permanent housing when they find it. 

The plan is to be at what’s known as “functional zero”, in order to end homelessness by 2030. Functional zero does not mean the complete absence of homelessness, but rather, a system that ensures homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring. That, and the number of people experiencing homelessness (as denoted by the by-name list) is three or fewer for a period of three months. 

The plan included four pillars: Prevention (homelessness is rare); Rapid re-housing (homelessness is brief); Supportive housing and wrap-around services (homelessness is non-recurring), and; System-level recommendations (engaging other partners for shared advocacy and system planning).

According to the report, the first pillar, prevention, will require “an immediate investment in the development of additional housing that meets Deep Core Housing need,” with the estimated costs, through federal, provincial and municipal investments, being $280 million in capital costs and an additional $10.7 million annually in operating costs.

Deep-Core Housing, also known as Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI), “is the most affordable type of housing available as it is calculated to be 30 per cent of a person’s income.”

For individuals receiving social assistance, (79 per cent of individuals on the By-Name List receive assistance) this is often the only affordable option.

Advocacy for affordable housing, as well as making sure that when opportunities arise for new housing, quick action can be taken, are also detailed. 

There is a plan to partner with the Sudbury Community Legal Clinic in order to create an eviction protection system, as well as developing a housing-loss prevention strategy. 

There is also a communication strategy being developed to combat “NIMBY-ism (Not in my Back Yard),” including “a campaign to increase public awareness of the benefits of supportive and transitional housing and address the stigma associated with these programs.”

Other programs describe the need to ensure there is both supportive and transitional housing. The current data shows that most people experiencing homelessness in Sudbury are high-acuity, and “there is a need to have housing that is permanent, with 24/7 supports on

site and deeply affordable for individuals’ experiencing homelessness with the most complex and often co-occurring needs, and for many, in a permanent way.” 

The development of two 40-unit supportive housing builds is recommended to meet the current need of individuals experiencing homelessness with high acuity. 

Within the presentation to be given May 28 to city council, there are next steps that include: producing business cases for “elements the municipality can control”; a land banking strategy to prepare “shovel ready” properties, implement a “Lived and Living Experience table” and design and implement the Health, Housing and Homelessness Planning and Operations. Staff will also provide semi-annual reporting to City Council, implement the recommendations, monitor trends, produce business cases for budget consideration and add additional public reporting through the city’s website. 

The Roadmap to end homelessness by 2030 will be presented to City Council on May 28. You can find the link to the reports and to watch the meeting virtually here

Jenny Lamothe covers vulnerable and marginalized populations for 

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