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Province chips in $2.5M for supportive housing at 77 Tiffin St.

'(These 14 units) will make a real difference in the lives of people in this community,' housing minister says of long-dormant property at Innisfil and Tiffin streets in Barrie

Add 14 units to Barrie’s stock of supportive housing.

The Ontario government announced this morning that it’s providing more than $2.5 million to help create these units at 77 Tiffin St., called the Tiffin Street Supportive Housing Project.

The multi-residential, three-storey building, sponsored by the County of Simcoe, is under construction and will consist of 14 units to support people with mental health and addiction issues, those with disabilities, as well as those experiencing homelessness in Barrie. The building will have an elevator to give residents with physical disabilities freedom of access and mobility. Residents will also be close to public transportation, parks and grocery stores.

“Ontario is in a housing crisis and we want to make sure Ontarians can find a home that meets their needs,” Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark at the site Tuesday morning. “(These 14 units) will make a real difference in the lives of people in this community.”

“It’s not just a building, it’s a place of hope for people who have worked through many life challenges,” said Greg Bishop, the County of Simcoe’s general manager of social and community services.

“These affordable homes will help some of the most vulnerable people in Barrie,” said Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.

“These are 14 units that are safe and provide mental health supports,” said Andrea Khanjin, Barrie-Innisfil MPP.

Clark said a significant portion of the $2.5 million comes from the province’s social services relief fund.

“The housing problem is very complex. There is not a one-and-done solution,” the minister said. “I want more Tiffin Streets built in every community.”

Supportive housing is a combination of affordable housing with intensive and trauma-informed co-ordinated services to help people struggling with chronic physical and mental health issues to maintain stable housing and receive appropriate health care.

The Ontario government is also investing an additional $25 million annually in its new homelessness prevention program. This new program will simplify and streamline operations so municipal service managers can spend less time on paperwork and more time working with their clients to help find housing and other supports and help those at-risk of homelessness stay in their homes. 

The additional funding brings Ontario’s total yearly investment in the program to close to $464 million. 

Bishop said the $2.5 million was used to purchase 77 Tiffin St., ready it for people and maintenance.

This isn’t the first time the grey, block of a building at the corner of Innisfil and Tiffin streets has been on the radar. At one point, 77 Tiffin was expected to house a women’s addiction treatment centre, but the deal fell through more than a year ago.

The Women’s Residential Recovery Centre, operated by Cornerstone to Recovery, instead went to 236 Dunlop St. W. — with plans to expand the 1,800-square-foot building by 3,500 sq. ft. and include a rooftop garden. It’s to house as many as 12 women at a time, providing them with their own bedroom and washroom.

Cornerstone is an addiction recovery support agency serving York Region, the Greater Toronto Area and now Barrie. Its mission is to support those affected by addiction to achieve emotional, physical and spiritual wellness.

Barrie city council has both endorsed the Cornerstone facility and supported it with an interest-free, $400,000 loan to renovate a building for the centre’s operations. The city also entered into a sole-source, two-year agreement, with an option to renew for an additional two years, with Cornerstone to place clothing bins at city facilities, or at mutually agreed upon locations on public land, for the sole purpose of funding its residential addiction recovery services.

Cornerstone for Recovery is a not-for-profit organization that has been offering a program which focuses on community based treatment since 2004.