The Lighthouse in Saskatoon will be shutting down the shelter beds it offers.
That’s according to Mayor Charlie Clark, who noted that the provincial government pulled the trigger.
“The Lighthouse has obviously gone through a turbulent time. The provincial government announced a desire to close the shelter beds in the Lighthouse. What we want is to make sure there are programs in place that can help to meet the needs of people who are struggling in our streets,” Clark said.
No exact shut down date was given by Clark, and the Lighthouse didn’t return Global News’ calls or emails seeking clarity on the subject.
“It’s important there be accountability in clear reporting of those programs, but also we really need a continuum of care that can effectively move people from shelters into stable housing, into the kind of treatment programs and support programs that people need, and ensure that we don’t have people just cycling in and out of the street,” Clark added.
He noted there is a transition in place to “effective service provision.”
“The Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) has stepped up and has opened the Wellness Centre, and we are working with them on expanding the ability to provide those services in a more permanent location.”
He added that’s part of the solution, and that community partners need to work together to make sure programs and beds are in place.
In a statement to Global News, the Ministry of Social Services gave more information on the transition plan.
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“The Government of Saskatchewan is beginning to transition services it contracts with Lighthouse Supported Living in Saskatoon to new community partners. Our shared focus continues to be ensuring supports remain in place to meet individual and community needs and the number of emergency shelter spaces in Saskatoon is maintained,” read the statement.
“The transition began in September 2022, with new service providers providing Supported Independent Living Program (SILP) services for 14 individuals who reside at Lighthouse. SILP services provide adults with intellectual disabilities living in their own homes with person-centred supports so they can live as independently as possible.”
“Starting October 1, 2022, some emergency shelter spaces will begin to transition from Lighthouse to Salvation Army. The Ministry of Social Services is continuing to have discussions with other community partners to plan the transition of all 61 emergency shelter spaces from Lighthouse.”
“The approach will be a gradual reduction of new referrals to Lighthouse as new shelter spaces become operational and with client needs in mind.”
STC Tribal Chief Mark Arcand said he wouldn’t back down from helping people, but said he was concerned about having more people looking for help in the city as a result of the shut down.
“Am I worried? Absolutely. Am I going to be shying away from helping more people? The answer is no. We’re going to do what we can, find a location. If there’s other locations that people want to help us with, we’ll gladly take that on and help as many people as we can that are homeless, and really make an effort to keep them safe this winter and the future days to come,” Arcand said.
“We’re going to pick up the slack the best we can to help people, because at the end of the day people come first.”
“I’m hoping in the next two or three weeks we’ll have another location determined, and really have those supports, because we’re not afraid of a challenge because it’s going to be putting people first.”
Arcand said the Lighthouse was seeing issues due to some bad choices.
“I think they made some bad decisions with their past executive director, and they did some things that caused them to have this knee-jerk reaction, which is the provincial government took their funding, and if this was your own business I don’t think that would be acceptable to you either.”
The Lighthouse was established in 1992 as the Voyageur Club, with the name change coming in 2007.
According to the Lighthouse’s website, it has 58 affordable apartment units, 68 supported living apartments, 12 community homes, and 106 shelter beds, which are a mix of men’s, women’s and stabilization beds.