I’m extremely grateful to the Northumberland Affordable Housing Committee for organizing an All Candidates meeting on September 27th to discuss this important issue. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss and explore ways in which we can ensure that everyone’s basic right to affordable living is realized and achieved in Cobourg.
Throughout the campaign, citizens, groups and some media have been asking candidates to comment on affordable housing. Initiating a Social Policy Advisory Committee to ensure issues such as affordable housing is incorporated into the Cobourg Strategic Plan is a leading priority in my campaign vision. I would like to elaborate on this a bit more with the following statement:
Month over month we are seeing an increasing number of transient individuals and local residents on the streets. Homelessness is not a hidden issue – it does unfortunately exist in our community.
As Councillor, it will be an immediate priority of mine to initiate a framework and terms of reference for a Social Planning/Community Development Advisory Council to ensure issues such as affordable housing, homelessness, mental health, drug addiction and food security are included in Cobourg’s Strategic Plan. This includes identifying and coordinating planning, partnerships, and direct service delivery that care for our most vulnerable citizens and promotes a safe community.
I believe it is Council’s responsibility to work hand-in-hand with Northumberland County Community and Social Services to mobilize action to develop a realistic response to support people experiencing mental health, addiction and housing issues. We, as a municipality, need to promote and support service providers, community services and volunteer groups who work tirelessly around the clock to help those in need. We need to play an active role in connecting our police officers with local social and health services. We need to have a system in place for transporting people in crisis to the appropriate place of care – anytime, anywhere.
This means facilitating funding for street-level community outreach, investing in system navigation and 24/7 emergency transportation, infrastructure and space, and exploring other municipal models where either a social policy officer or community outreach coordinator is on its staff roster. It means a municipal-wide approach where access to coordinated wrap-around health and social care is readily available for those at-risk of being without shelter or basic needs. It means that community health – and the health of our people – are at the forefront of everything we do.
Homelessness, mental health and addiction is not a 9 to 5 issue, which is why better provision for people in crisis on a 24/7 basis needs to be at the forefront of all that we do to ensure the social well being and safety of people living in our community.