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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

SECC releases Homeless Project results, recommendations to provide supports to those in need

- the most common barrier identified was the lack of affordable housing options -

by Sylene Argent - Photo submitted

On Friday, representatives from South Essex Community Council (SECC) presented the results of the Leamington Homelessness Project, which was established to survey those who were either homeless or on the brink of homelessness to identify the support they need.

  Alissa Enns, Project Leader for the Leamington Homelessness Project, when approaching County Council about the matter for the second time in August, noted the surveying initiative took place between June 14 and 18. Professionals in the field, who work directly with those who are experiencing homelessness, conducted the survey.

  Over the course of the data collection process, the survey team connected with 72 individuals. 57 percent of the respondents were housed; however, three-quarters of these individuals were worried about losing their housing.

  Of the respondents, 43 percent were experiencing homelessness, of which 17 respondents were experiencing absolute homelessness and 14 respondents were experiencing hidden homelessness, meaning they had temporary access to accommodations with no guarantee of continued residence or prospects for securing it. This includes those who are ‘couch-surfing’ or sleeping in their cars.

  Of those interviewed, Enns explained, around half have been homeless more than once, and the majority have been homeless for more than one-year.

  “The most common barrier identified by the survey participants was the lack of affordable housing options, followed by access to income and support for housing for homelessness,” Enns said.

  When survey participants were asked specifically what could improve their situation, 46 percent of the survey respondents said an increase in the affordable housing supply would improve their situation or make it easier for them.

  “Something that I did find surprising, was the duration of time people were experiencing homelessness. The majority of participants were experiencing homelessness longer than 12-months…to me that is just surprising, because it shows sort of a long-term and cyclical pattern of homelessness here, where people aren’t able to exit homelessness quickly,” Enns said.

  At the August 11 County Council meeting, Carolyn Warkentin, Executive Director of South Essex Community Council, spoke of some of the work that happened as a result of the Leamington Homeless Committee and the coordination efforts, since the project started, including the Windsor Essex Housing Connection program. She said then that this program replicates what is happening in the City of Windsor and includes The Bridge, SECC, Family Services Windsor-Essex, and Housing Information Services.  

   Since it was implemented, Enns explained, over 20 people have been seen in Leamington, some of which have been housed.   

  The recommendations outlined through the Leamington Homelessness Project include the need for housing and homelessness services to be located in Leamington and the county. Location is one of the biggest obstacles in accessing appropriate services and assistance.

  Some of the other recommendations included the need for future housing and homelessness support to be locally informed and persons with lived experience, long-term service coordination, and the establishing drop-in services for homeless people and those at risk of being homeless as part of a larger and longer-term service system.

  The full report can be viewed at


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