A New Partnership Aimed at Alleviating Poverty in Halton

One out of every 11 Oakville children under 18 live in Poverty.

(left to right): Jeff Zabudsky, Michelle Pommells, Rusty Baillie, Gary Carr, Michael Shaen and design students from Sheridan College: Hannah Metcalf, Heather Varty, Emily Ceh, Alivia Checchia
A New Partnership Aimed at Alleviating Poverty in Halton

Home Suite Hope, Halton Region, Oakville Community Foundation and Sheridan College came together today to announce their partnership aimed at alleviating poverty in Halton Region. Homeward Bound Halton is a community-based program that provides affordable housing, free child care and a fully-funded college education with a built-in internship for single-parent mothers facing economic hardship or risk of homelessness.

Homeward Bound Halton is the first replication in Canada of WoodGreen Community Services’ highly-successful program in Toronto that has helped over 150 women and more than 200 children since 2004. Fifteen participants will be assisted through the Homeward Bound Halton program over the next three years, with five women beginning their studies in early 2015.

“The Foundation is pleased to help bring to Oakville a program with a 10 year track record and an 85% success rate of enabling single mothers to transition from poverty to meaningful employment, self-esteem, pride and achievement. The Homeward Bound Halton project is ideally suited toward our Vital Grants initiative, which supports strategic, long-term and collaborative ways to better support the needs of the community, while engaging our Fundholders around shared interests and passions.” Rusty Baillie, CEO, Oakville Community Foundation

The initiative is being led and managed by Home Suite Hope, a registered charitable organization that provides long term housing to low-income, precariously-housed, single parent families so that they can have the time necessary to stabilize their lives. Home Suite Hope recruits participants and qualifies the applications. As part of its oversight for Homeward Bound Halton, it is also establishing an Industry Council which will provide support, job internships, and advice on expanding the program to help more participants in the future.

Halton Region is providing housing and childcare subsidies for all 15 participants in the program, while the Oakville Community Foundation, through its inaugural Vital Grants program, is paying for the full tuition and educational needs of the first cohort of five women. Sheridan is delivering the educational programs as well as providing the participants with laptop computers, access to student support services, internship placements and assistance with their job search following program completion.

Two other community groups are also assisting: The YMCA of Oakville is providing participants’ children with swimming lessons, teen leadership programs and summer camp experiences, while ArtHouse will provide participants’ children between the ages of 7-11 with music, drama and visual arts programming.

According to data from the 2011 National Household Survey, nearly 38,000 Halton residents live below the Low Income Measure (LIM after tax). This figure is equivalent to 7.6 percent of Halton’s population and includes nearly 1 out of every 11 children under 18.

As part of the launch event, a team of Sheridan students, unveiled an art installation they created, which will remain on display at the college for the duration of the program. The piece called “Where do you call home” depicts a life-sized, die cut figure sleeping on a park bench next to a box of donated food. It aims to raise awareness of the fact that poverty exists in Halton. The project was created by students Emily Ceh, Alivia Checchia, Hannah Metcalf and Heather Varty, under the supervision of Professors Mary-Jane Carroll and Anais Deragopian.

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