Manitoulin Family Resources expansions get green light

MINDEMOYA – Manitoulin Family Resources (MFR) received some very welcome news this past week when the province confirmed funding for phase II of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (DSB) application to the Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF) under which MFR had several proposed expansion plans.

MFR is very excited about the news, amounting to almost an early Christmas present, but there is a bit of a catch as the funding falls short of what is needed by nearly $300,000.

The SSRF’s phase II funding will provide $362 million in provincial and federal funding to help a diverse range of vulnerable people, create longer-term housing solutions for people in need and ensure the housing and homelessness sector has the tools and support that they need to safely and transition to recovery, explained DSB CAO Fern Dominelli. “Phase II builds on the province’s initial $200 million investment under the SSRF announced last March.”

That initial funding saw the DSB receive $938,400, which went toward emergency shelter solutions in motels and hotel stays, homelessness prevention, service and supports (food security, personal protective equipment, cleaning and transportation), as well as a 10 percent administration fee for the DSB.

This second phase will mean an input of $897,838, all of which will be allocated to MFR projects. The total cost of the projects is actually $1,188,488, but MFR executive director and Mr. Dominelli are diligently working toward finding the nearly $300,000 shortfall to allow the projects to be completed.

The projects include expanding the capacity of within the existing shelter building in Mindemoya at a cost of $51,414, a cargo van to facilitate transportation for food and thrift store items at $40,000, capital expansion projects for a new and larger food bank and thrift store tallying in at $796,947 and a capital project to convert the existing food bank building.

MFR executive director Marnie Hall explains that the advent of COVID-19 has severely reduced the amount of capacity at the women’s shelter and constrained the work at the food bank and thrift store due to physical distancing requirements and safety protocols.

“We are extremely grateful for the funding,” said Ms. Hall, who said she remains confident that the remaining funding will be sourced to allow the projects to be completed.

In the meantime, MFR is reaching out to its partner organizations and the communities it serves throughout the district to collectively determine the best use of the cargo van.