Swift Current youth shelter in danger of closing

Click to play video: 'Dorie’s House in jeopardy'
Dorie’s House in jeopardy
We begin tonight with a plea for help from Swift Current, where homeless youth could once again be thrust into life on the streets. Jules Knox has our top story – Sep 22, 2017

Pregnant and homeless in Swift Current at 16, Kaitlyn Lindstrom had nowhere to turn.

“I was kicked out of my home, and I was basically living out of my car,” Lindstrom said.

That was eight years ago, but things have changed since then.

Dorie’s House, a 24-hour youth emergency shelter in Swift Current, opened its doors in January. The eight-bed shelter primarily helps those between the ages of 14 to 17.

Now instead of needing help, Lindstrom offers it. She’s a community youth worker at the shelter.

“There is a need, there’s a huge need, definitely. This house has been full,” Lindstrom said.

Since Dorie’s House opened in January, more than 25 youth have had 500 overnight stays.

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But if no money is found, the shelter will have to close its doors on Oct. 4.

“It breaks our hearts to think about that. There’s been a lot of tears, lots of hugs. We just can’t imagine this happening,” Dorie House’s manager Shantell Winter said. “We’ve been an open place since January 15, and to have the lights off, the doors shut for good is really hard to take in.”

There are seven youth that need a place to go before the shelter closes, Winter added.

“We’re not ready for them to be gone yet,” she said. “So it’s probably just going to be the same old story, couch surfing, you know, going back to unsafe situations.”

“We’ve had RCMP bring youth to us that had been sleeping in a bank lobby. They’ll sleep wherever they can,” Winter said.

Lindstrom said her biggest worry is suicide.

Dorie’s House needs about $30,000 a month to keep going, Lee Cummins, Southwest Youth Emergency Shelter’s board member, said.

“We can’t continue to fund it on our own,” she said.

Dorie House was built by donations, including $840,000 in construction costs and nearly 35,000 hours in labour. Cummins said the community hoped that by proving a need, funding would follow.

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“The community has already contributed to the portion that they can. They’ve done their work,” Cummins said. “The cost to run something like this annually is higher than what we can fundraise, and so that’s where we would like to be in partnership with a variety of agencies to help out.”

The government says organizers were told at the time that there was no budget for operating funds.

“The Ministry of Social Services already funds two licensed youth and young adult group homes in Swift Current, and as of today, three of eight available spots are in use,” Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said in a statement. “In addition, the government also provides funding to the Swift Current Community Youth Initiative which offers community programming for youth.”

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