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Belleville homeless get help from new program

By John Boldrick

Two new projects aimed at helping individuals in transitional periods of their lives have been announced by the Hastings Quinte Social Services Committee.

The projects were announced at a meeting of the Hastings Quinte Joint Social Services Committee on October 12.

One of the projects announced is that of a new support worker for the Belleville area. The worker will help homeless people who are living in transitional housing units throughout Belleville.

Funding for the project is to be provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association, a charitable organization, under the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, which is a program to prevent and reduce homelessness. The funding will last until March 31, 2014 and amounts to a total of $71,807 or $23,935.70 per fiscal year.

The money will be used to fund support staff, neededso that people may move on to more sustainable housing options in the future, according to Carmelo Ruberto, administrative assistant to the director of Social Services.

The second project to be announced concerns the Three Oaks Foundation, which will receive a total of  $280,335 over a three-year period. The money will be used as part of a new $1.155 million transitional housing building to be built in Belleville, which will include eight housing units for victims of violence, as well as administration offices and other areas to help support the tenants.

 

“Women and children who live in the second stage housing will be working with the community counselor. There will be administrative offices but there won’t be somebody on site all the time,” said Pam Havery, executive director at the Three Oaks Foundation.

Even though plans are in place to build the new eight-unit housing center, a location is still not known, although downtown Belleville is being targeted.

“We have not secured a site for our project,” said Havery, “We are hopeful that we are able to build our facility in the core downtown area.”

A date for construction to begin has been targeted.

“We’re hoping to start construction within the next year-year and a half,” said Havery.  Plans for the new projects have been in place for some time.

In February of this year, a community advisory board was established under the approval of the Hastings/ Quinte Joint Social Services Committee to provide community input into local projects. This past July, a request for multiple proposals was issued. Of the proposals issued, the two met the guidelines of the Belleville Community Plan, whose role is to recommend projects that identify issues and priorities of the Belleville Community Plan.

The board met this past September and recommended that both projects receive funds so that they may be completed.

For the Three Oaks Foundation, this could be the first in a series of many new projects to help women and children, adding that the demand for more help is high.

“We’ll go from here. This is an exciting project for Three Oaks and it will have a very positive impact in the community,” said Havery. “The need for safe and secure affordable housing for women and children who are victims of violence is very large.”

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