ANNOUNCEMENT - The provincial government announced funding to help address homelessness and violence in Central Alberta. From left, Barb Miller, MLA for Red Deer South, Kim Schreiner, MLA for Red Deer North, Mayor Tara Veer and Irfan Sabir, minister of Community and Social Services, were on hand for the announcement on Thursday. Erin Fawcett/Red Deer Express

Government funding announced for Red Deer

Money to help address homelessness and violence in Central Alberta

Red Deer is the recipient of government funding to help address homelessness and violence in Central Alberta. The announcement was made on Thursday.

“Every Albertan deserves to have a place to call home and live free from violence. This funding will help address homelessness and domestic violence in Red Deer, Sylvan Lake and the surrounding areas. Together, with our community partners, we are working hard to make life better for all Albertans,” said Irfan Sabir, minister of Community and Social Services.

The funding includes $125,000 to the City of Red Deer to increase its capacity to provide Housing First programming and services for homeless Albertans.

The $125,000 is part of $2.5 million provided in Budget 2017-2018 to help communities better house and support homeless Albertans using a Housing First approach. This funding is in addition to the more than $3.5 million provided annually to the City of Red Deer for this purpose.

The government also recently invested more than $36,000 to upgrade Red Deer’s adult emergency shelter and address fire and safety risks. The money is in addition to the $596,000 provided annually to support the shelter.

Sylvan Lake will also receive funding – $150,000 to help implement a community action plan to address family violence.

“We are grateful for additional funding from the Province to provide support for housing outreach services in our community. As we continue on the path to eliminate homelessness, the Province, the City and community agencies recognize the importance of working together to respond to our economic climate and the ongoing need for housing and supports for our vulnerable citizens,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “Those allocations are for work we have already undertaken. When we make funding decisions locally with provincial funds that flow through to us, we ultimately look at the criteria that are built upon our homeless population.

“The recent data tells us that approximately 40 per cent of our homeless population is the Aboriginal community and those funding decisions will be made in accordance with that criteria. It was identified that the specific need for this portfolio of funding would be for intensive case management and Aboriginal cultural supports.”

Veer added the funding is good news for Red Deer.

“As Alberta’s third largest city and obviously because of our positioning on the corridor, certainly all of Alberta is faced with socio-economic challenges – Red Deer is certainly among that,” she said. “We know that any funds that come to Red Deer just help us to provide those necessary supports for the existing homeless population in our community and ultimately these funds in the long term will be used to help get people off the street and into housing.”

In addition, through the Family and Community Safety Program, the $150,000 grant is being used by the Town of Sylvan Lake to create centres in 13 Central Alberta communities to provide consistent information, resources and referral supports to those affected by family violence and bullying.

Sylvan Lake is working with Benalto, Bentley, Blackfalds, Bowden, Delburne, Eckville, Elnora, Innisfail, Lacombe, Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House and Stettler to establish a centre in each area.

The 13 communities have formed the Central Alberta Regional Vision for Non-Violence Coalition to develop and share resources.

“This grant funding has allowed our Coalition to begin steps towards addressing family violence in each of our communities. We will be using the same language and resources, working towards our common goals and providing seven different education and training opportunities for service providers in our Coalition. Also, we will be creating a Centre for Positive Relationships in each of the 13 Coalition communities,” said Colleen Lewis, regional coordinator, Central Alberta Regional Vision for Non-Violence Coalition.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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