SASKATOON – The federal government is committing roughly $450,000 to provide new homelessness services in Saskatoon as part of its “Housing First” approach. The announcement was made at the Lighthouse Supported Living centre Monday by Conservative MP Kelly Block.
Officials say the new projects will address gaps in homelessness services.
“We are … partnering with other levels of government, with communities and organizations who will seek to develop and then invest in strategies, local solutions that will combat homelessness right here in their own communities,” said Block after the announcement.
The Housing First approach was introduced by the government last April. It moves homeless individuals first into housing before providing support to address other issues, like addictions or mental health.
“It’s been very successful in other countries,” said Block, who is the MP for Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar.
“It’s been launched all across the country and we are seeing great success.”
The Lighthouse Supported Living and the Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre will both receive portions of the funding announced Monday. The money will allow The Lighthouse to add a staff member to help Housing First and non-Housing First clients locate and secure housing in the city.
“The Housing Locator is a key part of Housing First, finding appropriate housing for some of the most vulnerable, high-needs and at-risk individuals in our community,” said Don Windels, executive director of The Lighthouse, in a statement released before the announcement.
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Additional funds will also allow the group to develop a bed bug heating chamber and renovate laundry facilities for supported living clients.
The Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre will also use the investment to hire new staff members. The organization plans to add three new positions that will help homeless individuals find housing and access support.
“The role does come into play as being an advocate for individuals who are experiencing homelessness, being a listening ear for individuals to be able to help them navigate that system,” said Bill Mintram, the centre’s executive director.
The funding is being distributed through the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership.