Lanark County Council has declared Oct. 10 as World Homelessness Day in Lanark County and affirms its commitment to move the bar on homelessness in the community.
World Homelessness Day acknowledges the severity of the homeless crisis and its effects on individuals, families and communities. Last year, Lanark County’s homelessness response team served 289 people experiencing homelessness in the community.
A great deal of work has been undertaken by the county’s by-name list committee, which began in 2022 and consists of members from Lanark County Social Services, Lanark County Mental Health, Lanark County Interval House and Community Support, Victim Services, Cornerstone Landing and Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Addictions and Mental Health.
By-name lists are a consent-based, real-time list of all known people experiencing homelessness in a community. The committee is a service coordination table that responds to people on the list with a goal of ending homelessness. Using data, it supports triage to services, evaluates system performance and advocates to end homelessness.
The county recently received recognition for the work of the by-name list committee to reduce chronic homelessness from Built for Zero Canada, which is a national change effort that supports a group of communities to end chronic and veteran homelessness in an effort to eliminate homelessness in Canada. Lanark County reached its first key milestone in the project by reducing the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness by 10 per cent below its baseline. The by-name list committee established a baseline of 26 people experiencing chronic homelessness in March 2022. As of June 2023, the number had dropped to 15 people.
“We are excited to confirm Lanark has reached a 10 per cent reduction in chronic homelessness in May 2022 and sustained this reduction for the past 14 months,” said Marie Morrison, Director of Built for Zero Canada. “In fact, based on your most recent data submission, Lanark County has reduced chronic homelessness by 42 per cent below baseline.”
This work supports the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness goal of having at least 12 Canadian communities achieve and sustain a 10 per cent or more reduction in chronic homelessness by March 2026 Lanark County is the eighth community to reach and sustain the milestone.
On Oct. 10, the by-name list committee is hosting a Rural Homelessness Conference with funding through the county. “This training event helps to address our goal of educating the public and applying best practices,” explained Emily Hollington, Director of Social Services.
The all-day event features keynote addresses by Tim Aubry, Professor at the University of Ottawa, and Michael Lethby, Executive Director of The Raft. There is a plenary session on rural encampments and outreach, as well as a discussion panel on “What It Takes to End Homelessness,” featuring Kat Riley from Built for Zero (Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness), Katie Burkholder Harris of the Ontario Alliance to End Homelessness and Terrilee Kelford of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Exhibitors will be on hand throughout the day to share information about their services.
“Lanark County is committed to working with the provincial government, as well as private and non-profit groups, to deliver positive outcomes to people experiencing homelessness,” said Lanark County Warden Peter McLaren (Lanark Highlands Reeve).
Anyone experiencing homelessness is encouraged to reach out to Lanark County Social Services at 613-267-4200 ext. 2402.