City program supports street families


Families recently on the streets or at risk of losing their homes have a place to turn for help.

The city is launching the Families First Program, providing support and referral services.

“They may have addictions, they may have mental health issues, they may have financial problems,” said Wanda MacDonald, executive director of the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre, where the program will be based.

Other clients are hindered by language barriers or literacy problems.

Families First will receive $750,000 in funding each year — part of the city’s $14-million housing strategy — and a team of eight case workers and three specialists have been hired to link clients with existing resources.

Around 160 families are living in motels and city shelters while they wait for housing.

“We’re obviously trying to target families because children are the ones who are most traumatized, most disrupted from a change in their housing situation,” said Bay Coun. Mark Taylor.

Giving them support is key.

“You can’t raise a family in a motel room, so we’ve got to try to get them out of the motel room, which is temporary and bring them into permanent housing,” said Mayor Jim Watson.


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