Red Deer releases draft for new homeless shelter

Projected estimated to cost $3.2 million

Red Deer released its preliminary report for a standalone homeless shelter on Monday after the province announced potential funding for the planning and construction of temporary shelter services last week.

The draft was released so community agencies could include it when they submit their Expression of Interest proposals to the province, which are due Aug. 11. The preliminary report proposes an estimated $3.2-million, 20,565 square-foot facility with a garden space and courtyard to run an overnight shelter, mat program for homeless who are intoxicated or high, and detox. The province has committed $1.2 billion in capital funding across Alberta over five years.

Proposals will provide the province with an inventory of capital projects for temporary shelters for adults, women and children fleeing family violence, and youth for 2018-19 and beyond and does not address operational funding.

Red Deer is looking to build an overnight temporary homeless shelter for all abilities, sexual orientations, mental health and illness challenges, Aboriginals, couples, people escaping conflict and violence in the home, English as a Second Language citizens, and those in various stages of alcohol and drug addiction.

The focus is to help people in need of emergency shelter at night with space in the facility to work with them during the day to help them find more permanent housing. It was recognized that the core need was in the downtown.

The city has been assessing medium and long-term shelter needs since city council approved $100,000 in January 2016 for a purpose built shelter study.

“Because shelter service is a provincial area of jurisdiction, and Red Deer has historically has received less shelter funding per capita than other regional centres in Alberta, we recognized we needed to come up with a local plan to advocate to the province,” Mayor Tara Veer said.

The report will be used by the city to advocate for provincial and federal capital and operational funding for a new shelter likely to be operated by a not-for-profit group. She said the preliminary report is very much a draft in terms of what is needed and costs.

“We really were caught between a rock and a hard place,” Veer said.

“Because of the provincial timeline we don’t want to jeopardize any potential funding for our community agencies. But for us to go through a complete internal review as well as fully go through public consultation and continue the stakeholder engagement was prohibitive by Aug. 11. We did what we could to release the highly conceptual model.”

The final report will include information about site selection, shelter and supports program planning and facility design and costing. It should be complete by the end of the year or early 2018 at the latest.

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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