City funds part-time staff to help homeless

Safe Harbour Society has received additional funding from the city to add a part-time worker to assist the homeless who arrive at People’s Place emergency shelter.

Safe Harbour Society has received additional funding from the city to add a part-time worker to assist the homeless who arrive at People’s Place emergency shelter.

On Monday, the city announced it would pay for a worker to be employed from Nov. 1 to March 31 to assist people who are admitted to the shelter and help explore other housing options that may be available to them.

Kath Hoffman, executive director of Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing, said $13,000 to hire another worker will make a difference.

Safe Harbour is also working on city approval to increase spaces in its mat program to 26 from 20. The program, for homeless people who are intoxicated or high, has been operating the overnight program near the city’s downtown, at 5246 53rd Ave., since 2007.

Second and third readings to amend the land use bylaw to allow more mats will be heard on Dec. 2.

Hoffman said if approved, those new mats could be put in place immediately.

“I think we have a proven track record of being a responsible neighbour and these extra six spaces don’t strain the resources. These are the guys we really want to make sure are tucked in somewhere safe at night,” Hoffman said.

Safe Harbour also recently added 12 spaces at People’s Place to increase the number of beds at the shelter to 35 from 23.

Safe Harbour was able to use $22,000 from Community Housing Advisory Board to purchase bunk beds and linens for People’s Place, which operates in the basement of Loaves and Fishes, at 6002 54th Ave.

Safe Harbour has worked to expand its homeless programs after it did not get its usual funding from the city’s Community Housing Advisory Board to run the seasonal Winter Inn program.

Hoffman said these new beds and mats are permanent and are welcome increases for the city’s homeless. “Red Deer has historically had the lowest shelter spaces per capita in the province. We’re finally just kind of catching up to what we’ve known we’ve needed for a long time.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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