Introduction to the Program
In a strategic move to tackle the growing problem of homelessness, the District of Muskoka is considering an unconventional solution: retrofitting an ambulance. The idea was discussed at the recent Community and Planning Services Committee meeting, with a focus on creating a Mobile Outreach Vehicle Program to be considered in the 2024 budget.
Addressing Homelessness Through Flexibility
The Need for Innovative Solutions
Wade Matthews, the District manager of housing projects, identified the need for flexibility in delivering services, especially post-pandemic. With transportation hurdles and intricate client needs, a more versatile approach is required.
The Mobile Service Hub Concept
The idea of transforming an end-of-service ambulance into a mobile service hub emerged, allowing District staff and community partners to reach individuals and families where they are located, enhancing accessibility to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
"The concept is clear: bring services to the people who need them, wherever they are in Muskoka. This will ensure support for those in need and expand our service delivery," stated Matthews in his report.
Costs and Benefits of the Program
In terms of cost, the project is estimated to include an end-of-service ambulance reallocation, an annual expense of $10,000 for the outreach program, yearly vehicle maintenance fees of $8,500, and a one-time retrofit or vehicle wrapping cost of $10,000.
The cost-efficient nature of this approach, avoiding the need for renting or setting up static office spaces in remote areas, is being considered as a significant advantage.
Learning from Others
Matthews and his staff are actively reviewing similar models from other regions, ensuring that the program will be designed according to best practices that suit Muskoka's needs.
The Mobile Outreach Vehicle Program is seen as a promising and inventive strategy in the District's continued efforts to address homelessness. This pragmatic solution exemplifies the District of Muskoka's commitment to finding innovative and responsive ways to serve its community.