Council’s Committee of the Whole approved in principle a Memorandum of Understanding with Prince Edward Lennox & Addington Social Services for a transitional housing project just outside Picton last week.
It also approved undertaking a long-term lease agreement with PEC Community Partners for the operation of a transitional housing facility.
The County has received a three-year funding commitment from the Provincial Homelessness Prevention Program. It covers a rent supplement, staffing, and supplies to establish the facility.
As the grant does not cover the capital costs of acquiring a suitable property, municipal staff negotiated a 25-year lease agreement with PEC Community Partners/Base31, which has made a conditional offer to purchase what is currently The Maples Retirement Home.
The Transitional Housing Facility will pay rent of $67,000 annually to PEC Community Partners through a combination of PELASS funding and the residents’ occupancy costs.
This is a “a public-private partnership arrangement…addressing homelessness in Prince Edward County,” wrote the County’s Affordable Housing Supervisor Elis Ziegler in the staff report.
The new facility, which will be called Leeward House, will have nine spots available for any resident facing homelessness, and could be operational as early as May.
Final passage of the combined motions is expected to come at the Jan. 30 meeting of Council.
“The point is to provide a congregate, therapeutic setting for a minimum of three and possibly beyond 12 months,” said the Housing Supervisor.
“The people living there will have the support of on-site staff as well as agencies coming in to provide services. The intention is, in the time they are there, residents can work on their plans and find permanent housing.”
Rent of $620 per person will be collected through a combination of pay-direct and rent supplement for residents in receipt of social assistance, either through Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program.
The Maples Retirement home is currently at half capacity with five residents, four of whom have transition plans in place. The hand-off between PEC Community Partners and the current Maples owner will take place once all residents have found accommodation.
Jack Winberg, President of Rockport Group, one of the PEC Community Partners, said the group was excited to be involved in the project.
“Base31 and PEC Community Partners are pleased to be able assist the County and Council and staff in running this transitional Leeward home and it’s our pleasure to support the community in the manner in which is laid out in the lease agreement,” Mr. Winberg told COTW.
Following the meeting, Mr. Winberg told the Gazette the annual rent payments would simply cover the mortgage on the property. Getting involved with a solution to homelessness in Prince Edward County was more than a financial decision.
The MOU between the County and PELASS allows the municipality to access two separate funding envelopes through the province’s Homelessness Prevention Program. Those funds will support both transitional residents living at Leeward House and two full-time staff members. Leeward House will also have an on-site caretaker with accommodation provided at the facility.
A total of $128,085 covers rent supplements, staffing, and supplies to establish Leeward House, the first of its kind in the area, as a hybrid “rehabilitation and therapeutic” transitional housing facility. It will offer congregate living for up to one year in a supported and monitored environment to nine people who had been experiencing homelessness. And additional $72,000 will pay for a second staff member to assist County residents directly in finding and keeping affordable rental housing.
“Thank you to PEC Community Partners,” said Councillor Kate MacNaughton. “What a great contribution to the fabric of this community. Thank you to the housing department for all their hard work in developing this agreement. May it lay the ground work for more partnerships with other willing partners.”