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County plans to commit $1.2M to local agencies fighting poverty

Report indicates 22 projects have been recommended for funding in 2024 through Social and Community Investment Fund

The County of Simcoe is set to commit more than $1 million in 2024 to community agencies that help individuals and families living in poverty.

According to a report presented to county councillors at Tuesday's committee of the whole meeting, the upper-tier municipality is looking to support 22 projects totalling $1.2 million through its 2024 Social and Community Investment Fund (SCIF), which is assisted by poverty reduction municipal funding, formerly known as Social Assistance Restructuring Reinvestment (SARR). 

“Local programs provide essential resources to support individuals and families facing or living in poverty by bridging gaps not covered by other funding sources,” Tonya Nicholson, program supervisor with the county’s community services department, explained in the report.

Nicholson also pointed out the fund allows local organizations to develop programs that reduce the effect of poverty by helping individuals and families. 

A portion of the municipally funded poverty reduction envelope is dedicated to the SCIF each year. Recommendations for project funding are presented annually to council for consideration and approval. 

This year, the application period opened July 10 and closed Aug. 24. It saw 37 applications from community agencies requesting more than $3.8 million in funding.

The committee then evaluated each application using a ranked scoring system, with consideration given to delivery locations, project alignment with the National Poverty Reduction Strategy and community return on investment. 

Ultimately, 22 projects, totalling $1.2 million, have been recommended for funding, according to Nicholson's report. 

“To further incentivize quality outcomes and encourage measurable social impact in poverty reduction activities, an additional amount of up to $200,000 from the municipal poverty reduction funding envelope may be allocated in Year 2 to projects in good standing with two-year funding agreements,” she added.

County staff will evaluate the program during the first year and work to identify eligible projects and recommend additional funding, Nicholson noted, adding agencies previously funded through SCIF, with agreements in good standing, are eligible for two-year service agreements to improve program sustainability. 

The City of Barrie has committed to a contribution of up to 50 per cent toward food security projects specific to its residents, the report indicated. 

“Barrie, over a two-year period, has committed an additional $1.65 million to support social services," Mayor Alex Nuttall said during Tuesday’s meeting. "I believe a majority of that is actually being transferred to the county to work on food initiatives, warming, cooling … I just wanted to highlight that without a request from the county, (Barrie) stepped up with $825,000 each year.

“I just wanted to highlight Barrie’s additional contributions above and beyond anything that is allocated in the operating budget," he added.