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MEDIA RELEASE: Letter from S-CAP to Sudbury Mayor and Council

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

Dec. 1, 2014

Dear Mayor and City Council:  

The Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) is an activist anti-poverty group that fights for the needs of all people living in poverty in Sudbury. We look forward to working with you and we have put together this letter as a way of introducing the issues that are of the most concern to us at the present time.  

Homelessness and the The Out of the Cold Shelter

After weeks of protest and organizing by the Sudbury Coalition (S-CAP) and others the City  finally set the date for the opening of the Out of the Cold Shelter for today, December 1st. While it is still not clear why the Shelter, which should have been open in early November, is only being opened today aside from the low priority given to the homeless by the City, this is an important step forward for homeless people who have been left out in the cold by the City.

While S-CAP welcomes the opening of the Out of the Cold Shelter we continue to raise the concerns and needs of the homeless people we talked to about their experiences with the pilot project last winter. Their two major concerns were: 

1) that the shelter needs to be open for more extended hours (preferably on a 24 hour basis) since it is very cold during the day in the winter and shelter and warmth are required at these times as well, and

2). that there needs to be staff that is not from the Salvation Army given that many homeless people have had problems with the Salvation Army, and its staff. Salvation Army staffing means that some homeless people will not feel safe going to the Out of the Cold Shelter. That the Red Cross is providing staff for the first three nights for the shelter opens up other possibilities and in many centres like Toronto it is City workers who staff most of the shelters.

S-CAP will be monitoring the situation with the Shelter and if problems arise we will be raising them with the City.

To address the roots of homelessness the City must also make available safe, accessible and affordable housing and social assistance rates need to be increased dramatically so that people can afford the rental housing that is available. These issues must be discussed by Council as soon as possible.  

Handi-Transit Access and the need for Adequate Exceptional Circumstances Funding

S-CAP is also approaching you about two related issues.

·        The current Handi-Transit reviews are denying many people with non-physical disabilities, and also some people with physical disabilities, access to public transit in Sudbury. We are aware of a number of people who have been refused access including a blind person and others clearly requiring this service. These reviews must be ended immediately and access for those with physical and non-physical disabilities must be restored to Handi-Transit. Recently we have heard that people who need this service are being told it is “at capacity” and they are being refused rides for classes, medical appointments and to do necessary shopping. It appears that even for people who meet the eligibility requirements that the “at capacity” argument is being used to deny service. People with disabilities have the same right as other people in Sudbury to access public transit. If this service is being denied the necessary accommodations mandated by provincial legislation for people with disabilities are being violated. We are asking for an emergency resolution at the Dec. 9th council meeting to stop these discriminatory reviews and to clearly allow that those with non-physical disabilities are also able to use Handi-Transit.

·        The City must maintain the policies and rates of the former provincial Community Start –Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) which was abolished by the provincial government for the down-loaded to municipalities Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) funding. Right now under City policies a person who needs a new bed (mattress and box spring) because of a bed bug infection but who does not need to move is only allocated $400 (under the City discretionary benefits policy) rather than the $799 they would have received under the CSUMB. This needs to be changed to allow people in poverty in exceptional circumstances the funding they require. We are asking for a change in the present City of Greater Sudbury CHPI Guidelines (June 2013) to remove the criteria of  “necessity to relocate” from the “catastrophic event” (flood, fire, bed-bug infestation) so that the full funding of $800 could be available for the applicant.  We urge that this be addressed preferably at the City Council meeting on Dec. 9th or at the very first meeting of the Community Services Committee.    


Yours sincerely,

Anna Harbulik

Gary Kinsman

Christy Knockleby

Clarissa Lassaline

For the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty.

For more information contact: S-CAP at 249-878-7227

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About the Sudbury Working Group

The Sudbury working-group of The Media Co-op was formed to create independent media in the North, to speak to our issues and outlooks on our communities as well as the world around us. Independent media provides an avenue for people who are wishing to gain critical perspective on the issues that matter most to us, and to give a voice to those people and stories that you won't find in the mainstream media.

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