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Homelessness count set to begin

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The issue of homelessness has been gaining attention here in Rainy River District.

The Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board, in partnership with more than 40 service agencies across the district, is conducting a count of homelessness over two weeks from April 5-18.

This count is part of a province-wide effort to gain a better understanding of homelessness in communities across the province.

“This count will allow not only the RRDSSAB but all service agencies across the district be able to learn more about and respond to the issue of homelessness in the Rainy River District,” said Sandra Weir, Integrated Services Manager (Housing Lead) at the local DSSAB.

The method being used to collect the information was one designed for rural and northern communities as it casts a wider net, known as a Period Prevalence Count.

It relies on involvement from all service providers who serve the homeless and at-risk homeless population.

Surveys will be available at agencies across the district where respondents will be offered a pre-survey asking, “Where are you sleeping tonight?”

Anyone not sleeping in their own house or apartment will have the opportunity to complete the survey, in addition to those whose current housing feels unsafe or are one unexpected bill away from homelessness.

The survey is voluntary and confidential, and respondents will receive a gift card to local grocery stores.

“The survey is designed not to be a simple head count of homelessness, but to dig deeper in understanding patterns and reasons why,” Weir noted.

“The results will help us plan services to meet the needs of the community,” she added.

The homelessness count will take place province-wide every two years, beginning this spring, and results will be made publicly available in the months following the count.

Individuals or families who currently are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, are encouraged to visit the DSSAB office in Fort Frances (450 Scott St.) or the Rawn Road Centre in Atikokan.

You also can visit www.rrdssab.ca or call 1-807-274-5349 to learn what supports may be available.

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