Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing is celebrating its 10-year anniversary since amalgamating into one organization to assist the homeless and people with addictions.
Safe Harbour Society, Central Alberta Housing Society, and the Residential Society of Red Deer opened under one roof as a single agency in 2007.
The society’s downtown facility at 5246 53rd Ave. started out with a 20-bed non-medical detox, and a 20-mat overnight shelter for people using alcohol or drugs.
Operations director Tricia Haggarty-Roberts said it took another year, but Safe Harbour was the first Housing First demonstration home in Western Canada.
“Now every where in the country is working with Housing First,” said Haggarty-Roberts.
The eight-bed group home Harbour House continues to operate.
Another three houses, for five people each, is available for those who want a clean place to go after detox.
“All the other Housing First have no barriers. If you want to drink and use drugs it’s perfectly acceptable. This is an option for those who want that space in a safer environment that fits with their recovery.”
Haggarty-Roberts said people move out when they are ready, but can still access support for six to 12 months.
Wrap-around supports have been developed to help people examine their lives in different ways and help them make choices for a better future, she said.
“We know relationships and connection are so important to overall health, wellness and stability. That’s probably been the biggest shift. Instead of what are you needing today, what do you need for the long term.”
In the months to come Safe Harbour’s social detox will become a medical detox to provide medical intervention for people to overcome alcohol and drug addictions.
“We’ve hired a nurse lead and there are some renovations that need to happen.”
Alberta Health Services is providing $400,000 in annual funding to convert the detox, but Safe Harbour is waiting for approval of more provincial funding to ensure the necessary staffing is in place.
“In order to do this well we need more funds than they provided. We’re cautiously optimistic that will be coming.”
For the past two years a winter warming centre for the homeless has operated out of three portables in the parking lot of Safe Harbour. The society is looking to continue to run the centre.
The society is also in need of a new home for People’s Place overnight shelter. It has 35 year-round beds and an additional 11 beds in the winter.