Sask. researcher to create streamlined approach for addressing homelessness

A University of Saskatchewan researcher has been awarded $25,000 to develop a streamlined approach for addressing homelessness. File / Global News

University of Saskatchewan (U of S) researcher June Anonson wants to develop a strategy to address homelessness in Prince Albert and beyond.

According to a 2015 study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 20 per cent of people in Saskatchewan stated they were at-risk or already homeless.

Anonson is leading a community partnership to develop a transferrable model to tackle the issue.

“Rural and remote communities experience particular challenges that aren’t a factor in most larger urban centres, such as fragmented resources and isolated clients who move in and out of rural areas,” Anonson said in a press release.

“The best practices we develop will be transferable to other communities across Saskatchewan and across Canada. This can be a model for future collaborative projects.”

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The project will include the Prince Albert YMCA, the municipal police service, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the First Nations University of Canada.

Anonson aims to stimulate collaboration among community leaders, social agencies, frontline workers and homeless persons.

“Engaging community leaders in the discussion will re-stimulate commitment to improving services and reduce the burden on related local services offered through health, legal and social services,” she said.

“The bottom line is we want to cut down on redundancy in services for the homeless and identify areas where not enough is being done to address problems.”

Objectives of the project are to:

  • Identify root causes of homelessness and determine the specific needs of homeless persons and how to communicate with them;
  • Investigate barriers that face homeless persons and community agencies in order to determine how services can be improved; and
  • Create a list of services available in Prince Albert and area and provide a version directly to homeless persons. Translate the list into one Indigenous language.

Anonson noted a 2016 report by the Canadian Observatory of Homelessness that showed 35,000 people in Canada were homeless on any given night. In addition, 28 per cent to 34 per cent of people using shelters were Indigenous.

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Anonson was awarded a $25,000 grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for the project.

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