Funding for homeless renegotiated

City council moved forward on funding changes for the homeless at this week’s council meeting.

At a previous council meeting, a group of Aboriginal spokespeople pointed out the flaws in the way funds are provided to different groups of homeless people.

City council acknowledged that the segregation for funding for aboriginal homeless people had not been identified and that the grant Request for Proposal (RFP) needed to be ratified.

Scott Cameron, social planning manager with the City of Red Deer, said there had been some concerns about the original RFP from local citizens and organizations.

“At the September 19th council meeting a recommendation from the Community Housing Advisory Board (CHAB) on funding was considered and council made a resolution to have CHAB take another look,” said Cameron.

CHAB did in fact take another look at the recommendations and engaged the aboriginal community as well as Service Canada in the process.

Approaching the Oct. 12th CHAB meeting, a decision came down from Service Canada confirming that everything to that point had been fair and in accordance with guidelines.

However, Cameron said that when the agreement was initially made the Government of Canada had left it up to each community to make decisions.

“In the meantime our local office received confirmation around a definition which signalled a change to the terms of the grant, so the recommendation was put forward that the existing RFP be scrapped and a new one issued.”

Councillor Lynne Mulder said there was a lesson to be learned from this process.

“We entertained one group that had put in a request but we did not entertain others and it is because of that that the RFP is being reissued,” she said.

Mulder said that initially the committee took a stance that council was working within the guidelines, but as a result of the decision groups came forward with information that changed the perspective of the decision-makers.

Cameron went on to explain that the funding for organizations serving homeless residents will now be split. The money will also only be available to organizations that apply for it and will be allocated based on the parameters that have been set regarding the requirements for eligibility.

Councillor Tara Veer voiced a concern over the speed with which the money would make it into the community, but Cameron said that the first concern is always getting the money allocated and out as quickly as possible.

“The recommendation was to extend the type of service that could be provided. Under the provincial dollars that funds the housing team they’re limited by who they can serve,” said Cameron.

The extension, Cameron explained, will allow the housing team to serve people who have only recently become homeless rather than deeming them not homeless enough as in the past.

It was voted unanimously that the proposals go ahead and council will receive the new CHAB recommendation for funding allocation in December.