Need for shelter likely to grow despite closure
Despite the elimination of Red Deer’s Winter Inn, the need for an overnight shelter program for the homeless will likely be greater this winter, says Red Deer’s mayor.
Last week it was announced that the Winter Inn will not operate this winter as Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing did not get its usual funding from the city’s Community Housing Advisory Board to run program.
In past years, the Winter Inn has typically operated from November to April, using provincial funding that is allocated by the advisory board.
Safe Harbour says it’s committed to finding solutions to fill the gap left by the cancellation of the Winter Inn.
Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the upswing in the economy and local employment opportunities means people will continue to migrate to Red Deer, along with Central Albertans seeking social services available in the city where rental accommodations are difficult for anyone to find.
“I understand that the province is focusing on affordable housing. That’s wonderful. But before you can get into affordable housing, usually the people on the street are in need of emergency housing,” Flewwelling said.
“The Winter Inn has served the community very well and the need for emergency housing continues to exist.”
Last season, 326 different people used Winter Inn.
“In the cold weather of winter, it’s almost impossible to survive outside if you don’t have the proper survival gear.”
Flewwelling said he has confidence in the creativity of organizations that work with the homeless that the need for winter shelter will be addressed.