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Top stories of 2019: #1 Mayor's Task Force on Homelessness creates positive change

City and agencies move quickly to establish three initiatives that help our most vulnerable
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Mayor Cam Guthrie speaks at a meeting of the Mayor's Emergency Task Force on Homelessness. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday file photo

It got things done.

Often, when a "task force" is announced, it leads to lots of talk but not much action. At least initially.

But Mayor Cam Guthrie's Mayor's Task Force on Homelessness created positive change for the city's most vulnerable in a very short time period.

"I want it to be about actual actions, implementations of solutions to the problems people are facing," Guthrie said when he announced the task force. "This is not a talking moment. This is a getting things done moment."

From when it was announced at the end of 2018, to a set of meetings that included many of the relevant agencies, politicians and people with lived experience, it took just a few months — March of 2019 — for the city to announce that three initiatives were approved: a five-bed supportive recovery room where people could rest and recover from addiction in a safe, supportive setting, the establishment of a court support worker and support workers for the Downtown Guelph Welcoming Streets initiative.

Other partners helped fund and run the programs, which were all renewed for 2020.

It was a shining example of how good things can get done quickly when there is focus, collaboration and a willingness across many sectors.

“We should be applauding ourselves for moving fast on this,” Guthrie said at the council meeting where the three initiatives were approved.