More and more people are struggling with mental health & addiction. What can you do to address it?
We are seeing more open drug use and addiction throughout the city. More and more people are struggling with mental health & addiction. What can you do to address it?
Mental health, addiction and homelessness are symptoms of systemic failure to provide adequate social services and prevention initiatives to our most vulnerable citizens. I strongly believe that no one chooses a life of mental health challenges, addiction, trauma or poverty. It could be any one of us. Our family members and neighbours. Those who who experience addication and homelessness daily have complex human stories. The solutions are equally complex. And I openly admit that I don't have all the answers.
Council cannot solve the root causes of homelessness and mental health/addiction. Nor can we turn a blind eye and hope that other levels of government will step up.
We know that stable, safe housing is foundational. "Housing first" as a policy framework has solid data behind it. This past term of Council has made significant progress by supporting four new projects specifically targeted for our citizens experiencing homelessness and mental health challenges. Here's what we can do at a local level:
a) fund outreach workers in the downtown to direct access to services,
b) incentivize and provide grants to supportive housing projects, such as Stepping Stones, Homes for Good and Kindle Communities,
c) support early intervention and community-based programs directly to neighbourhoods in need (through the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, Onward Willow, etc.),
d) encourage more alternative-to-policing community safety programs and resources, such as Welcoming Streets, and the Community Paramedicine program
e) strong advocacy with other levels of government for increasing ODSP, co-op and social housing funding, and mental health prevention and treatment.
As an individual councillor, I will continue to do all of the above, as I have throughout my previous terms.