Municipality of Chatham-Kent

The Chatham-Kent 10 Year Housing and Homelessness plan identified that access to emergency accommodation is limited in Chatham-Kent, and that there was a need for a co-ordinated approach to increased access to temporary supports to help households attain housing stability, as well as a need for more intensive forms of support for people who have deeper needs related to addiction and mental illness. The development of the Homelessness Response Line to resolve this need is a wonderful example of human services integration.

To address this need, consultation and discussion, led by Employment and Social Services (Service Manager for CHPI), was initiated with local community service providers and various Municipal Departments. Most service providers for homeless and shelter insecure individuals were already using local motels for emergency accommodations and providing supports to assist users to find permanent sustainable housing, however it was recognized that there was no coordinated approach nor was there a streamlined, coordinated community response to "after-hour" emergency accommodation provision or follow up support service.

By leveraging existing resources, a co-ordinated response team was developed. This team included the Employment & Social Services Division, the Municipal Housing Division, Chatham-Kent Woman’s Centre, (VAW) the Salvation Army, Chatham-Kent branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Chatham-Kent Police Services, Chatham-Kent Fire Services and Victim Services.  A dedicated telephone line was introduced, called the Chatham-Kent Homeless Response Line, (CKHRL) The CKHRL is answered by a local community service provider/partner (the Chatham-Kent Woman’s shelter) as they had existing trained staff in place 24 hours per day to answer calls already.  We also leveraged existing relationships with local motels to participate in the program and built new relationships with other motels in rural communities when possible, to gain motel participation.