Neil Evenden said that the downtown community had concerns about street people and homelessness for several years and about 4 years ago the Town contracted with Simcoe Outreach Services to have two people work 35 hours a week interacting with these people and trying to help them work in the system and find alternatives.  Unfortunately costs increased and the Town finally withdrew its support.

Neil met with Jim Downer and Council and presented a proposal that reduced the number of hours and the cost - 24 hours a week and $40,000.00 - and two workers under the auspices of the Salvation Army started last June.  These two patrol in all weathers and meet all sorts of people.  The Town has again decided not to support the program further but the Army has enough money to maintain the service till the end of the year.  They are working on funding for 2012.

Denis Laurin said they meet people in their environment, people who are in crises situations, and they develop relationships with them, evaluate their situation and work to help them get into drug programs, transitional housing or whatever.  They've worked with people between the ages of 17 and 75 with a wide range of issues.  They also meet with store owners and visitors.

Many of the people they meet don't fit standard criteria so they help them navigate the system, which is hard enough at any time, and they follow up until they've exhausted all the possibilities.

Gord Davenport reported on one case they've been working on for 5 months.  She was getting support from another individual but he had his own issues and after several years felt he could not help her anymore so he called them from a card they'd posted on the telephone poles.  She was to be evicted in two hours when they first met her so they researched resources but in the short term had to place her in Out of the Cold.  She claimed to have another name and a fiance, she did have arthritis and diabetes and was on meds for mental health issues.  She'd never applied for drug benefits because she didn't know how, she doesn't qualify for a mental health review because her case is not serious enough.  They found temporary housing for her but had developed an infection and was hospitalized.

She gets checks but spends the money in days then claims to have been robbed.  She needs a trustee but she only trusts Gord and Denis so they are still pursuing alternatives.

They see up to 90 individuals a month and the average age is over 40.  Response from the downtown has been positive.

Rod asked if the Club could help.  At the moment Neil thinks lobbying Councillors would be most effective.  They have had some money from Rev. Pendlebury's memorial fund but they need significant support from the municipality.

Phil thanked them all for their efforts and their compassion.