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City council approves nearly $6M in funding for Lethbridge social services

Click to play video: 'Community groups receive nearly $6M to tackle homelessness in Lethbridge' Community groups receive nearly $6M to tackle homelessness in Lethbridge
WATCH: City council has unanimously approved of $6-million worth of funding allocations that address homelessness in Lethbridge. As Danica Ferris reports, about 96 per cent of that total isn’t coming out of the city’s pocket. – Oct 5, 2020

City council unanimously approved funding allocations for the Lethbridge Community Well-being and Safety Strategy (CWSS) on Monday, which will provide nearly $6 million to community social services.

Of that $6 million, only about 4 per cent will actually come out of the city’s pocket, with the rest a split of provincial and federal dollars.

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“They flow through the City of Lethbridge so that we can allocate them at a local level,” said Martin Thomsen, the city’s manager of community social development.

“So instead of Ottawa or Edmonton telling the community how to use their dollars, they flow it through the city.”

City council voted unanimously in favour of the recommended allocation of the $5,981,529, which will be handed out in round one of funding allocations for the CWSS. The second round, coming next month,  will add another $2.1-2.8 million for a total of about $8 million. Of that, Thomsen said the city will only pay about $700,000.

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“The reason we went over two different allocation periods is that we got a bunch of COVID-related dollars that must be spent immediately,” he said.

Thomsen said his group did robust research and stakeholder engagement to determine what the primary social issues are in Lethbridge and what would be the best value in allocating the money.

“Arguably, one of the more important pieces: how do we incorporate a performance management system in the allocation of those dollars to ensure that we’re moving the needle, that we’re moving the mark and getting a return on investment?” Thomsen said.

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The bulk of the money allocated is meant to address homelessness in the city, with round one allocations including:

  • $1,212,120 to the Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta South Region for integrated co-ordinated access
  • $1,505,176 to the Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta South Region for adaptive case management
  • $274,240 to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Lethbridge and District for Hestia youth housing as part of the Permanent Supportive Housing Consortium
  • $943,559 to the YWCA Lethbridge and District for men’s housing as part of the permanent supportive housing consortium
  • $550,400 to the YWCA Lethbridge and District for women’s housing as part of the permanent supportive housing consortium
  • $523,543 to the Southern Alberta Self-Help Association (SASHA) as part of the permanent supportive housing consortium
  • $249,169 to the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society to provide Blackfoot program supports to all permanent supportive housing clients
  • $219,434 to Volunteer Lethbridge for the civil society accelerator
  • $503,887 to Lethbridge Housing Authority for housing supports/rent supplements

“The groups that we’re working with already have the capacity, they have the buildings and the doors and the rooms, and we will get moving very quickly on this,” said Councillor Belinda Crowson.

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“We know there’s a long, cold winter coming, and we want to get people housed as quickly as possible.”

Crowson said she’s happy to see the city putting strategies into action to address issues directly, and if it doesn’t immediately yield results, city council will know.

“We have done evaluations with all of these, so there are metrics and there are studies and we can see whether or not we are achieving what we want to,” she said.

“And then if we don’t, we’re going to change the funding around. So we will be evaluating.”

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Crowson sponsored the motion to council, and said round one of funding allocations was more about infrastructure, while round two will tackle more of the operations side.

The CWSS is expected back before city council in November.

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