Council allocates money for homeless programs

  • Aug. 20, 2014 3:48 p.m.

Red Deer City council approved the allocation of funds for two homeless programs.

The Community Housing Advisory Board put forward the recommendations for a youth homelessness pilot project and a winter emergency response program.

The youth homelessness pilot project, the first of its kind in Red Deer, is set to begin this fall. Council approved $124,344 to McMan Youth, Family and Community Services to run the program. Of that funding amount, $87,147 will be taken from the Outreach and Support Services Initiative Funds grant from the province and $37,197 will be from the Homelessness Phase 1 Program Account. The money was allocated after several projects had unexpected funds returned.

“The CHAB partnered with the Red Deer Youth Homelessness Strategy group to design the youth homelessness pilot project around research and other communities’ experiences,” said Roxana Nielsen Stewart, the City’s social planning supervisor. “It is based on proven methods. The project will provide programs and initiatives that would target youth in our community, a population group needing different types of services than adults experiencing homelessness.”

Dustin Lendvay, with the Community Housing Advisory Board, said the goal of the pilot project is to provide youth aged 16-24 with a permanent home and support them to maintain it and become self-sufficient. The project is expected to include four to five youth.

Youth housed in the program will demonstrate an increase in housing stability over the period of the pilot project, they will also demonstrate improved resiliency and self-sufficiency including skills that allow for a healthy transition to adulthood. As well, the youth will have increased access to supports and resources for youth and their families and to help them have a stable income source.

The pilot project is expected to run from Oct. 1st and run for 12 months.

“We as a society pay a heavy price for homelessness, we pay a heavy price for health care, we pay a heavy price for crime prevention and we certainly pay a heavy price for lost opportunities. Here is a tremendous opportunity to try and model that and something that hopefully youth can progress under. Again as a council, we need to move forward with a comprehensive and integrated community-based housing solution,” said Councillor Ken Johnston.

Mayor Tara Veer said homelessness has been an identified gap in the City’s housing file for quite some time. “This is significant to see various community initiatives focusing on this particular area come forth.”

The second initiative council approved is funding for a winter emergency response program. Additional winter programs have run for several years. These funds will help with the demand for space in current shelters during the winter and The Safe Harbour Society will use the money for staffing and supplies. The program will run from Nov. 1st to April 30, 2015.

“This is a continuation of a proven program that aligns with the community plan to end homelessness by 2018,” said Scott Cameron, the City’s social planning manager. “Rather than creating new programs to cover the winter months, we are tapping into current ones. Adding staff, spaces and supplies will help with the demand when it’s cold out.”

The Winter Emergency Response program will be funded through the Outreach and Support Services Initiative grant from the province and will total $13,000.