Most of the residents evacuated from an unsafe, unsanitary Saskatoon motel last month have been re-homed, but community agencies continue to seek long-term support.
About 125 people were forced to move from City Centre Inn & Suites on July 23, after the fire department ordered it to shut down due to deplorable living conditions.
Most evacuees have been placed in long-term housing, many with the Saskatoon Housing Authority or on the private market, a spokesperson for Saskatchewan’s social services ministry said in a statement.
Rehousing people should be step one of a sustained response, said Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand.
“We’ve got a lot more work to do,” Arcand told Global News.
Moving forward, he wants community organizations to work with the fire department to develop a move-in checklist that ensures people who use income assistance are placed in quality homes.
“This predetermined checklist would hold (landlords and housing authorities) accountable,” Arcand said.
“We don’t want people taking advantage of people that are in need of housing.”
Marc Cheriyan, residential services director for Saskatoon’s Salvation Army, said he wants community organizations to teach their clients how to speak up if their housing conditions are subpar.
“(Community agencies) can’t mandate how places are being taken care of. What we can do, though, is support the clients that are in those places,” Cheriyan said.
“It’s up to us to help teach and educate them as to what an acceptable standard is.”
‘There’s no followup’
Arcand said the motel closure highlighted the need for ongoing support for income assistance clients after they’ve been housed.
“There’s no followup,” he said, noting many of the former motel residents have complex health needs.
“We don’t want people to become homeless. We want to work with people, especially if they’re having addictions issues.”
Arcand said the social services ministry should develop case plans for the former City Centre Inn residents to better connect them with appropriate support services.
“There is some discussion (about case planning), but there’s no concrete plan yet,” he said. “Hopefully we can come up with a solution sooner than later.”