The District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) is working on keeping its By-Name List up to date. According to the agency, the list is a comprehensive list of every person in the community experiencing homelessness updated in real-time
The By-Name List also names those who would like to receive assistance, provided the individual signs a confidentiality agreement and agrees to the services.
When a person attains housing, the name is then removed from the list but kept within a system to ensure that they can be identified if they return to being homeless.
The board says the list restores human dignity to homeless individuals by not merely referring to them as a number, but rather as a human being who is known, recognized, and actively being cared for in this difficult season of life.
“The anonymity of enumeration has historically provided some limitations for our Community Relations Workers whose role is to provide wrap-around services or referrals to individuals experiencing housing challenges,” said Tammy MacKenzie, DSSAB’s Chief Administrative Officer. “The By-Name List goes the extra mile and will afford us the opportunity to identify consenting individuals, track their progress along the housing continuum, and transform how we think about and care for our homeless population in this district.”
According to the board, 71 people have been listed, with 35% of those now housed, as of October of last year. As of Monday (July 25th), the board says the list currently includes 46 individuals who are considered active and 4 that are listed as inactive.
The board says the list can help clarify the immediate and longer-term needs for shelter, safety, housing, and support needs, as well as connect people to appropriate supports and services through better service coordination.
DSSAB is shining a spotlight on the invisible category of homelessness, characterized by individuals who do not necessarily lack shelter but do lack stability. Officials say it is most often found in rural areas, where it is less likely to see people actually living on the street and equally unlikely to see an emergency shelter within reasonable walking distance. The bord says the general lack of accessible resources in rural areas is why homelessness is, and should be, an even more pervasive issue in these settings.
According to the DSSAB, while the rural homeless may not always be sleeping on city sidewalks or in public places, they are not any less homeless than their urban counterparts. They may be sleeping in their car, a shed, an RV or, most commonly, on the couch of a relative or friend, officials add.
DSSAB is asking any individual or community agency who knows of someone who may be homeless, at risk of homelessness, couch-surfing or struggling to maintain their home, to come forward and contact their office so they can discuss how being added to the By-Name List can help.
Please call (705)746-7777 Ext 5269 or visit www.psdssab.org/bynamelist for more information.