Council OK’s emergency transitional cabins site for homeless

Chatham-Kent councilors have approved what staff call the best available site for emergency transitional cabins for the homeless.

Chatham-Kent councilors have approved what staff call the best available site for emergency transitional cabins for the homeless.

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The program, which follows council’s direction in January, will consist of about 50 individual cabins and one shared communal building.

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During Monday’s meeting, staff recommended the cabins be built on municipal land at 378, 390 and 392 Park St. and Hyslop Street in Chatham.

There will be 24/7 security and support staff at the site, working with individuals to build life skills, access health care and obtain more permanent housing.

The current site at Victoria Park Place on Murray Street will be decommissioned as soon as the new build is up and running. The lease on that property expires in May 2025.

Staff will launch the initiative as soon as possible, housing services director Josh Myers said.

It will give unhoused Chatham-Kent residents the chance to heal, learn new skills and connect with other supports, he said.

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“It’s not a community. . . where people call this their forever home,” he added. “We want to provide them with the life skills that they need to move forward.”

Council also approved hiring a project manager on a two-year contract to assist with this project and current and future municipal affordable housing developments. The $264,000 cost will be funded from reserves.

Staff will begin pre-site development work at the site, including drawings and servicing up to $500,000.

Council approved the recommendations unanimously.

Staff plan to meet with neighbors around the site, Myers said, noting co-operation is key.

“First thing we need to do is . . . listen. We need to hear what concerns they have,” he said. “We need to work as a team to figure out how we can best support them as a community.”

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, the municipality opened a temporary emergency shelter and more and more individuals and families became homeless.

But with the need not decreasing, council directed staff to recommend future emergency and transitional housing plans.

The municipality analyzed more than 25 different properties over several months.

The recommended site is municipally owned and:

  • 250 meters from a convenience store
  • 350 m from a bus stop
  • One kilometer from a laundromat
  • 1 km from Outreach for Hunger
  • 3 km from Reach Out Chatham-Kent
  • 6 km from Hope Haven
  • 2.5 and 9 km from the nearest grocery stores

Staff will include the selected location in a request for proposals to inform potential contractors, attract a wide range of proposals and ensure a competitive process by comparing different vendors’ offerings, approaches and prices.

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Chatham Coun. Brock McGregor said various upstream challenges, including lack of income and insufficient social assistance rates, are driving demand for emergency housing.

“This is an unsurprising increasing challenge in our community,” he said, adding municipalities are feeling the cost pressures.

Chatham Coun. Alysson Storey credited staff for their work on the housing file, and community partners for their ongoing support.

“We don’t have a lot of options. . .,” she said. “We don’t have a magic wand at this table to end homelessness. . . but I do think that we really have to start building the foundation and pathways to care.

“We can’t afford to wait any longer.”

For more on the project, visit

[email protected]

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