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'Strengthen the Core' update: H4 expands downtown services

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City officials are outlining progress in the Strengthen the Core: Downtown Windsor Revitalization Plan.

City council and community partner organizations in support of the initiative, unanimously endorsed and supported an expansion of hours at the City’s Homelessness and Housing Help Hub (H4), from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days per week, including holidays.

“City Council’s unanimous decision to expand services at the Homelessness and Housing Help Hub is both welcome and critical. The Windsor Police Service responds daily to situations that are more appropriately addressed by health and human services providers, and I believe that this initiative will help to ease the heavy burden on our officers. More importantly, this evolving strategy will contribute to a meaningful and humane approach to connecting individuals in need to support services while also contributing to a safer downtown for residents, visitors, and business owners,” said Windsor Police Service Chief Jason Bellaire.

The increase of hours at the H4 will now include an expansion of amenities offered at the site, including but not limited to the following:

  • Providing a hot meal for those experiencing homelessness
  • Expansion of healthcare supports onsite seven days per week
  • Collaboration with Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – Windsor-Essex County Branch to increase allied health professionals onsite during the evening hours from 4:00 p.m. to midnight, seven days per week (starting in July 2024)
  • Introduction of shower facilities (starting in midsummer 2024).
  • Introduction of public computers to increase access to technology (starting in midsummer 2024)
  • Increased recreation programming

In May 2024, council unanimously endorsed and approved the $3.2 million Strengthen the Core: Downtown Windsor Revitalization Plan to address safety and security, increase the number of businesses, attract new residents and visitors, and make significant improvements to the city’s core.

"Building on the success of the current H4, the City of Windsor continues to actively work on the next steps to secure the permanent location for this vital hub of services and supports for vulnerable populations. The future H4 site will offer 64 units of high supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, mental health and addictions,” said Mayor Drew Dilkens.

The plan’s third initial action item, Healthy Spaces, identified an opportunity to extend the H4 hours of operation to ensure people who are unhoused have a facility they can access prior to the opening of overnight shelters, and to better support people experiencing mental health and/or addiction crises. $1.47 million is being invested (prorated for this year) through the plan to support this expansion of hours and additional amenities at the H4.

From April 2020 through to April 2024, over 4,000 unique individuals have accessed supports and services at the H4, and over 300 households have obtained housing. Currently, the city averages about 85 people per day from 6:00 p.m. to midnight.

“Oftentimes people experiencing homelessness may choose not to access emergency shelter. The reasons for this are unique to the person or household. It is important to note that there is no mechanism to force people to accept any offer of service, including shelter. The expansion of hours at the H4 serves as an alternate location to be referred to by emergency services, such as police and healthcare staff, for people experiencing homelessness who are not in acute crisis and are seeking support outside of regular business hours,” said Andrew Daher, commissioner of Human and Health Services with the City of Windsor.

City of Windsor officials say that the success of the H4 program can only be made possible through strong partnerships with community organizations to support those who are most vulnerable in our community. These partners include but are not limited to the following:

Housing Information Services

Canadian Mental Health Association – Windsor-Essex County Branch

Windsor Essex Community Health Centre

Windsor Essex Family Health Team

Family Services Windsor Essex

Probation & Parole

John Howard Society

Legal Assistance of Windsor

Brentwood Recovery Centre

Pozitive Pathways

Can Am Indian Friendship Centre

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