The Housing Help Association of Ontario (HHAO)
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Gail Michalenko
Agency: Georgian Triangle Housing Resource Centre

After my accident my income was so low that I couldn't pay my gas bill. The gas company was threatening to cut off my gas. Staff at the Georgian Triangle Housing Resource Centre helped me apply for the Winter Warmth fund so that my gas wouldn't be cut off and offered me suggestions on other resources that might help me manage better until I could get back to work. Home Owner, Collingwood

Joan Chamney
Agency: Owen Sound and Area Family YMCA - Housing Support Program - Owen Sound

A housing worker met with a gentleman this month that had come to Owen Sound to move into an apartment that he had already secured. Once he arrived in Owen Sound the landlord simply said the apartment had been rented to someone else. The gentleman had nowhere to go and only had a small amount of money on him and nothing more until the end of the month. The Housing program helped this gentleman to secure temporary housing while helping him fill out applications for a subsided housing unit. The Housing worker also provided other resources such as information about the food bank as well as information about the few lunch programs in Owen Sound. This gentleman has since moved into his subsidized apartment and all is well.

Laura Sheldon
Agency: Citizens for Affordable Housing - Housing Help Centre York Region

Client recently relocated to York Region and came to the Housing Help Centre looking for assistance with housing. He was sleeping on the street in Aurora and had been homeless for 9 years when his wife passed away. He carried all his possessions in a very large backpack.

Client met with a worker and he was supported to call the ODSP office in Sudbury to verify that have his file transferred to York Region and prove to them that he was looking for housing. Although it was becoming increasingly cold the client felt unable to go to a mens shelter as he suffered from anxiety in crowded places. Staff and client searched online for a room to rent and also provided him with information on the Homelessness Initiative Program through Crosslinks (a mental health agency) in the community. An application to Crosslinks was completed and faxed off. Staff offered to sit in with the client through the assessment process to make him feel more at ease and the Housing Help Centre office was offered as a place where he could meet with the worker.

While meeting with the client on the initial contact and the 2 visits to follow, the agency helped him to connect with the following resources:
" Grief counselling
" 310-COPE (crisis line)
" Identification Clinic
" Bus tickets for housing appointment
" Street Outreach Van
" Community meals
" Food banks
" Crosslinks
On one of his visits to the office, staff noticed that he was wearing shorts in the month of October as he had nothing else to wear except for 3 pairs of pants that were too long for him. Staff from the agency offered to hem them so that he would have pants in the cold weather; he was extremely appreciative of this gesture.
Crosslinks contacted staff to arrange a meeting for an intake for their program to be at our office and the client was given bus tickets to ensure he made the appointment.
While Crosslinks was determining his eligibility he agreed to stay at 310-COPEs crisis beds. He is currently at a Crosslinks home awaiting his December 1, 2010 move in date to a new unit.

Leona McIntyre
Agency: Citizens for Affordable Housing - Housing Help Centre York Region

The Housing Help Centre York Region received a call from the manager at HSBC in St. Catharines regarding a client of his who had applied for a personal loan. After investigating the reason for the loan it was revealed that the client's Enbridge had been disconnected in 2009. His client was a 75 year old man and the manager explained that during the winter of 2009 it was so cold in his client's house that his toilet cracked. His utility bill was around $6,000.00.

The manager had called everyone that he could think of and nobody seemed to be able to help him or give him direction. Somewhere along the line the bank manager was referred to our agency.

After our agency researched the St. Catharines area, the manager was referred to the H.O.P.E. Centre (the organization that manages the Winter Warmth Program in that area). An interview was arranged for the same day with this client and the the manager was provided with the telephone number for the Ombudsman who might be able to provide some help as well.

The staff at the Housing Help centre York Region was advised that the client was approved through the H.O.P.E. Centre and his Enbridge was reconnected last week, and everyone is working together to make sure that he doesn't get disconnected again.

Mary Ann Proulx
Agency: Citizens for Affordable Housing - Housing Help Centre York Region

Client contacted the agency and requested assistance with seeking housing in the Aurora area as he had recently arrived from Alberta and wished to find housing close to his daughter. He stated that his wife had passed away and he wished to move to Ontario to be closer to his family. He indicated that it was a very emotional time for him and he had struggled with depression. He was staying temporarily at a motel but could not afford to do this for very long and required assistance in finding housing.
The following was assistance was provided to the client:
- Multiple housing searches within in location of preference within his budget. He was able to secure a place within a week
- Services and supports such as the men's shelter, street outreach van, community meals, connection to Salvation Army stores, food voucher and the Homelessness Prevention Program to assist him during his time of transition
- Provided blank rental agreement forms
- Community referrals such as the seniors centre
- Completion of the RGI application and submission
- Referral to the ID Clinic
- Crisis services at 310-COPE, warm line
- Counselling Service Referrals Bereavement and mental health

Mary Ann Proulx
Agency: Citizens for Affordable Housing - Housing Help Centre York Region

Client was referred to the agency from a friend in her ESL class who had received support from the program previously. The client was a recent refugee and had limited English; she needed assistance to access food and clothing for her family. The staff made arrangements to take her to the food bank in Richmond Hill to help her get registered and to understand the process involved in accessing the services. An appointment was made to attend the Salvation Army to obtain a voucher for clothing from their store in Richmond Hill.

Housing Help staff discovered that the client had a dog grooming certificate from her country of origin and was interested in volunteering in this field. Staff arranged for the client to volunteer at a small dog grooming and pet shop around the corner from the client's home with the potential for employment.

Mary Ann Proulx
Agency: Citizens for Affordable Housing - Housing Help Centre York Region

Client was referred to the Community Support Program by his Ontario Works worker as he required assistance completing his ODSP and RGI (subsidized housing) applications.

The housing worker met with the client and the following work was completed:
- The York Region rent-geared-to-income form was completed and submitted.
- The ODSP forms were completed with the client and he was provided instructions on follow up regarding the portion his physician is required to complete.
- The client mentioned that he struggles with depression, has memory problems, and has severe back pain. Worker explored his current coping strategies and supports and found there to be few of either. A crisis management plan was developed and 310-COPEs services were discussed as well as exploring the following resources:
- The York Region Alternative Community Living Program application was completed and submitted.
- He was provided a food voucher.
- Humanity First was contacted to have food delivered to his apartment so he could use the gift voucher for fresh items.
- Client was provided information about local food banks.
- Client was provided the application and information regarding York Region Mobility Plus.
- Client was provided with information for Community Care Access Centre and the Client Intervention and Support Services for Seniors contact.
- Housing Worker contacted CMHA mental health and justice program and connected him with a contact person to provide direction regarding an upcoming court case related to mental health and the possibility of court diversion.
- Worker encouraged client to follow up with Legal Aid.
- Worker encouraged the client to contact her as needed and with any ongoing questions.
- Client walked in to the office the following day requesting guidance about why he needed to make a doctor's appointment. Client stated that he would check in as needed regarding the follow up since although all of the information was helpful he also found it overwhelming.

Rob Cammaert
Agency: Community Care of St. Catharine & Thorold

I am working in St. Catharines (Niagara Region). There are many changes with the recession but the most obvious one that I have noticed is age. The shelters and our Housing Help Centre appear to be dealing with more individuals who are in their 50-60's or older than in the past. Many of these individuals have extensive work histories and are just having difficulty securing employment. It is common to hear from a client that he has not been on EI or social assistance since the early 1980's. Many of the "older" population that are new to the system are less savvy and need more hands on help. In addition, many of these clients have multiple issues, both social and medical, that are also manifesting itself at this time.

From a community perspective, some of our funding from the United Way has decreased, and many community partners are no longer able to serve their populations, leaving many of the people entering our door with very limited immediate options for proper service and housing. This essentially means that there is more stress on the entry point agencies like the Housing Help Centres, Food Banks, and Shelters, which are traditionally under staffed.