By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter
Since the sheltering program began at Camp Samac due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the unsheltered population in Oshawa, several of the residents have been able to transition into housing.
Camp Samac was opened in May by Durham Region as a shelter location for the vulnerable population to help them maintain physical distancing and help stop the spread of the virus.
Alan Robins, director of housing services for Durham Region, says the program is still continuing with 24 residents currently on site. He says there are a number of partners assisting on site, including regional staff from Ontario Works which helps clients to receive benefits; Lakeridge Health to help clients with medical and mental health supports; Durham Mental Health Services; and Durham College which continues to provide all the meals.
In addition, Robins says they’re working closely with the Salvation Army through some of their local programs, as the goal of the program is to manage homelessness and reach positive housing outcomes.
“At the end of the day, we want these people housed, not just managing their homelessness at Camp Samac or another shelter,” says Robins, noting seven people have transitioned into housing since the program began in May.
“That’s really the goal – to get these people housed,” he says.
Robins says at some point down the road, the program will begin to wind down and new clients will be restricted from coming to Camp Samac.
“This was always meant to be a temporary measure,” he says, noting they will continue to work with the existing clients to try and reach more positive housing outcomes.
“For those that we’re not able to house, we will continue through our regular shelter and other housing support programs to assist those clients,” he adds.
Robins says moving forward, regional staff are also looking at creating some new supportive housing initiatives, which will be brought forward in a report at the next Health and Social Services Committee meeting, which will look at supportive housing options for dealing with those that are unsheltered.