City council will look at providing additional funding to Streets Alive for outreach programming for people experiencing homelessness. The cultural and social standing policy committee passed a recommendation onto council at its Feb. 16 meeting, which would see an additional $215,460 annually from Reaching Home federal funding delivered to Streets Alive until 2026.
The motion to send the recommendation passed 2-1, with councillor Nick Paladino opposed. He said there is too much opposition and too many questions for him to support it.
Councillor John Middleton-Hope is not a member of the committee, but attended with questions and concerns over the organizations ability to handle the outreach programming.
“Given our experience with Streets Alive and the warming centre, which was a colossal waste of money and they were unable to deliver their services as contracted, why would we consider funding the initiative where their experience is clearly in question?”
City administration said there will be opportunities for the city to monitor the organization’s performance throughout the term of the funding. Turning down the request at council could result in losing the federal money.
“This did go to market and Streets Alive was the only organization that applied to do this work that we believe is critical in ensuring that we are supporting the vulnerable population and maintaining any concerns that we saw last year with individuals who are residing in encampments and the purpose of this service is to ensure that we get people connected to the system of care,” said Takara Motz, community social development operations manager. “We have other service agreements with Streets Alive with outcome, outputs and key performance indicators clearly identified within those service agreements and there have not been significant performance concerns.”
A few residents spoke at the meeting to bring up concerns about both Streets Alive and the request for quotes. Matthew McHugh, co-owner of Fee Simple Law, said there have been a lot of changes since the request was put out, including a change to shelter operators and an initiative from council to look at long term plans for providing shelter for vulnerable residents.
“I understand that there are federal and provincial players involved in making some of these decisions however everything continues to feel like a rushed, last minute band-aid solution,” he said. “This community, especially the downtown community is exhausted.”
The funding request will be discussed and voted on by the entirety of city council at its March 7 meeting.