Transitional housing is the key to ending chronic homelessness, Newmarket Mayor John Taylor said at a high tea fundraiser for Inn From the Cold yesterday.
The event, held at The Armoury in Aurora Sept. 25, was the first community fundraiser for the shelter's capital campaign All Inn! The campaign aims to raise $2.5 million to build a shelter and transitional housing units on a new site in Newmarket. Taylor is the chair of the campaign.
“We’re going to get there but we’re not going to get there without events like this,” he said of reaching the goal.
Speaking to the crowd of about 76 community members and supporters, who were donning their best high tea apparel with florals and fascinators, Taylor said a crucial part of this project is transitional housing.
The new building, which is set to open in 2024, will feature 18 transitional housing units where Taylor said people can stay for anywhere from six months to a year and “have a place to leave their things, to say ‘this is my address, this is where I’m centred.’ And it starts to move people from crisis to stability.”
With this project, he said the traditional shelter space is important but the transitional housing element is "the magic."
“What we’re really building is transitional housing units that also has a shelter space,” he said.
Having a longer term place to stay will help Inn From the Cold and other community organizations also provide services on a regular and recurring basis, helping them out of homelessness. Taylor said this new building will help end chronic homelessness altogether.
“I’m convinced that five years from now, we will see a difference. Ten years from now, we will start to be able to say ‘I think we’re really close to ending chronic homelessness.’ We’re ending it in 10 years and we’re dealing with episodic homelessness and people just need that temporary support,” he said.
However, this will require work from community members, all levels of government, and partner organizations like Inn From the Cold, Taylor said.
“I truly believe we can end chronic homelessness," he said. "This is a solvable problem, it really is."
It will be a long road to get there, Taylor said, and he asked all the supporters there to stick with Inn From the Cold on this journey, throughout the capital campaign and after it is over.
“We shouldn’t rest until every person in our community has a place to live with dignity, that’s safe and that they can feel proud of,” he said. “That’s when we can say ‘hey, we’re really a complete community.”
He said the need for this is especially great with the impacts of COVID-19, inflation, and rising housing costs.
“I’m sure people here have noticed it, I’ve noticed it, that we have more people on the streets and parks this summer than I recall ever. So the challenge is real and it’s significant,” Taylor said.
Ann Watson, executive director of Inn From the Cold, also spoke about the need in the community.
"You’re all here because you know homelessness is an issue,” she said to the inn staff, volunteers, and supporters at the high tea.
“It takes a community to end homelessness and all of us being here are a step in that direction,” she said.
Amond the attendees were Taylor and his family, Newmarket-Aurora MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP Leah Taylor Roy, and a number of notable Newmarket residents. They enjoyed live music, tea and a menu of sandwiches and sweets.
All proceeds from the event support the All Inn! campaign.