May 11, 2022

Transitional housing: council approves pilot project to reduce shelter use

“It’s about dignity and purpose and it’s the heart of housing,” said Mayor Johnston. “Here, of course, we have two wonderful initiatives. One: to turn away from the use of shelters that is in progress. The other: to migrate to transitional housing that we have now decided to finance.

With two diversionary workers already in place at Mustard Seed and Safe Harbor since November 2021, the funding would continue their initiatives with a focus on self-resolution for people who are ultimately able to support themselves.

Over the past 10 years, 70% of people have used shelters less than 30 days per year, and only 4% have spent more than 180 days there.

“What was presented today was about new diversionary tactics that would primarily focus on the ability of individuals to resolve themselves, so that these are individuals who would not need long-term support for management. case, ”said Ryan Veldkamp, ​​Housing & Homelessness Supports Supervisor, who referred to the successful transitional housing program used in Calgary.

The project allows diversion workers to continue to support the transition financially by covering move-in costs, utility deposits, security deposits and payment of the first months of rent. Workers also create a housing plan by searching for suitable market housing, so overall homeless returns are below 15 percent.

For the exodus of people from temporary shelters, a noted problem was the city’s unmet demand for permanent supportive housing (PST) housing for the chronically homeless, caused by a myriad of complexities such as addictions and disabilities. mental illnesses.

The Integrated Community Housing and Homelessness Plan (CHHIP) identified a need for 139 spaces, with the city currently having 62 spaces available through the Amethyst and Pathways to Housing program.

As the City estimates costs could reach $ 210,000 per PSH unit in 2022, council supported the Integrated Housing and Homelessness Committee in its acceleration to develop permanent supportive housing by exploring the Canada Mortgage Corporation and housing and seeking funding from higher governments.

Council will also advocate with the Government of Alberta’s Ministries of Community and Social Services and Seniors and Housing to help increase the number of PSH units in the city.

Councilor Vesna Higham, in support of the pilot, believes it will add to other initiatives this year such as the Dream Center which is slated to open this quarter, a 75-bed residential treatment center slated to open this fall and the future permanent shelter.

“Tackling these social issues of crime, social unrest, substance abuse, homelessness, mental health issues, these issues that have been so prevalent in our community for so long, at least for the past five or six years; I’m encouraged today because I see these essentials starting to fall into place, ”she said.

Finally, the council also supported the administration to consider “integrated access” as a top priority for 2022. The focus is on ensuring that individuals receive timely access to other supports and services necessary for them. a holistic transitional approach, including justice, mental health, addiction support, education. , and income.

Councilor Dianne Wyntjes hopes the project will not only help reduce shelter use, but also help the downtown business community.

“It’s important that we talk about the small successes we have in changing the narrative of our city and downtown,” she said.

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