About the report:
Simcoe Muskoka’s VitalSigns® report is intended to be a community snapshot of our regional quality of life and our community vitality. This year we had a broad range of community members and organizations who contributed their time, skills and expertise to this project. The report begins with a snapshot of our two larger regional communities of Muskoka and Simcoe County, and then leads into the six reporting domains for 2016. Our goal is to help communities make crosssector connections between issues and trends that are highlighted for our region, and to build community capacity through shared knowledge for improved decision-making
The VitalSigns® project team is comprised of representatives from 35 different organizations who provided insight, guidance, recommendations and research to ensure this report is a simple yet datarich and highly useful tool. A research consultant was hired to ensure all data collected was relevant and accurate.
Our research began with the national VitalSigns® database of the Community Foundations of Canada. The specially requested datasets and publicly available data were both taken into consideration. From there, our data participants assisted in collecting data. Whenever possible, combined data for Simcoe Muskoka were used. Given the unique and distinct characteristics of Muskoka and Simcoe County, we separated the data for particular indicators. In addition to the Who We Are sections, you will also find this separated data in the Housing & Homelessness and Poverty sections. Most of the datasets were large enough to allow us to compare two time periods (often 2011 and 2015). Adjustments in the comparative years were made where information was unavailable. Numbers were rounded to the nearest whole for all infographics. The analysis was mainly statistical, with some content analysis of existing reports, presentations, websites, or media stories.
Housing and Homelessness
Focus on Affordable Housing: Simcoe Muskoka
Year 2 - Housing and Homelessness Plan 2014-2024
Both Muskoka and Simcoe County are in Year 2 of 10-year plans to embrace Ontario’s LongTerm Affordable Housing Strategy (LTAHS) goal that “every person has an affordable, suitable and adequate home to provide the foundation to secure employment, raise a family and build strong communities.” The Muskoka Homelessness Sharing Table, meeting about four times/year, gathers a broad range of community individuals and organizations to discuss and develop “made in Muskoka” initiatives and approaches. In 2015, the Muskoka Affordable Housing Initiative Program (MAHIP) generated 110 rent supplements, 10 retirement home fee assistance and 26 new units. Another 60 rent supplements and 20 new units are to be available in 2016. In Simcoe County, a cross-sector partnership has been engaged through a combination of municipal deputations and focus groups, as well as monthly meetings of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. New municipally-funded rent subsidy and secondary suite programs were introduced that build on the successes of federal/ provincial funding. In 2014/15, 207 affordable units were created, and 112 households received home repairs/accessibility modifi cations.
Focus on David Busby Street Centre
“Helping others help themselves” – and others
Driven by a philosophy of empowerment, David Busby Street Centre is a community not-for-profit organization working from a non-judgmental approach to advocate and improve conditions for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The centre welcomes 150 participants each day, for 38,000 visits in a year. Once a participant, Nick Robinson is now the centre’s Peer Advocate. “About 4 years ago I fell heavily into our social service system after an unforeseeable personal event rendered me homeless and helpless. It took about six months for me to get myself out of a state of crisis, and settled into a basic structured routine with some sense of stability. “Within the fi rst few months of navigating my way through our social service system, I realized that there were many social and systemic issues that were complicating and impeding my ability to get back out of the system. This compelled me to get directly involved within my community, and to focus on the policies and procedures that were hampering my ability, as well as too many others, to become self-sufficient and selfsustaining.”