When Kathy Cave at Women’s Outreach sees someone walk through the organization’s doors seeking help, she sees courage and bravery.
Cave, Red Deer Housing Team’s team lead, has been working at Women’s Outreach for five years, and she has seen hundreds of women and men fleeing domestic violence.
She remembers all the stories, but some stories stick out more than others.
One such story is about a woman in her late-20s. She was connected to the Rapid Rehousing program at Women’s Outreach. The single mother was fleeing domestic violence in late 2016, and she ended up at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
Cave said the woman was beaten, bruised and broken when she first met her, but that changed within 12 months of the program. Cave said the woman received help with finding the right home in Red Deer.
“We walk alongside them during their journey of finding housing. We make sure we budget with them, so they can afford the place, and they put in an application just like anybody else,” said Cave.
After a year, the woman was successful and stable, said Cave.
She started a cleaning business, hired about three people, and went on to write a book about her experiences.
There were 415 people with similar success stories in Red Deer in 2016 and 2017. The people were housed or continued to receive housing supports.
A report – From Homeless to Housed: 2016/2017 Annual Report on Red Deer’s Homelessness Initiatives – shows, 175 people were housed or received financial support to maintain housing from Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), a federal program.
Two hundred and sixty one people were newly housed or received housing support services with funding from province’s Outreach & Support Services Initiative (OSSI) grant program. About 29 per cent out of the 269 people were between the ages of 46 and 55. Another 24 per cent were between 36 and 45; about 20 per cent were between 26 and 32; 18 per cent were above 56, and 7.5 per cent were between 16 to 25.
Close to 33 per cent of those helped with OSSI funding, were women, while 65 per cent were men. The numbers also show 65 per cent of the population was Caucasian, 29.5 per cent was Aboriginal, and 4.5 per cent other ethnic backgrounds.
About 31 per cent of people were living in local shelters prior to being matched with a housing and supports programs. About 25 per cent were sleeping rough and 22 per cent were couch surfing.
The city has a five-year plan to end homelessness from 2014 to 2018.
Tricia Hercina, acting social planning manager with the City of Red Deer said, since 2009, more than 1,000 people were housed or received continued housing support.
“Moving forward, our focus needs to be getting together with the community and talking about what it means to end homelessness in Red Deer,” said Hercina.
The programs in place are working, but they are not perfect, said Hercina. “We have a long way to go.”