Barrie housing advocates call for continued funding for emergency shelter program

A group of advocates rallied down Bayfield street Saturday morning to bring awareness to the need for supportive housing.

“This is about housing for all, this is about putting roofs over people’s heads, not tents,” said Sarah Peddle, Busby Center Executive Director.

A program for an emergency shelter that was put on during the pandemic is set to end this month. Advocates are calling on upper levels of government to continue funding emergency shelters in the city.

“We have a lot of individuals that are going to be without a place because our capacity within our community wasn’t ready for this. Now it’s about a housing crisis response, and we really need to focus on that,” added Peddle.

The hotel voucher program was extended for two weeks from its initial date. However, there’s currently no plan in place for when it ends.

Peddle said over 200 people relied on the program.

“Some of the individuals who have found some stability in a motel program and started to access health care and trying to access mental health services are now… that stability is gone,” she added.

One of those individuals is Barrie resident Patrick McLellan.

“For everything you could possibly need for a time when you’re going through a very low point in your life, they give you the support you need to help try to bring yourself back up,” said McLellan, who’s been using the program since February June 3rd.

Although grateful for what the program has done for him, he said he’s worried about what will happen next.

“There’s going to be hundreds of people on the streets. That’s going to be a whole new epidemic in Barrie that we’ve never seen before,” said McLellan.

“There’s a lot of people who need shelter. It’s not just a home. We need affordable housing and to lower the rent prices,” said Isabella Ottaviani, Busby Essential Shelter Worker.

The Busby center says it will continue daily talks with the city and county in hopes of finding an alternative solution before the emergency funding ends on June 30th.

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