Community agencies focus on integrating housing and services

Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter champions project

Community agencies are teaming up to push for a 65-unit emergency and short-term transitional housing project for people facing homelessness, domestic violence, abuse and more.

Ian Wheeliker, executive director of Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES), said the agencies also want to provide services close to, if not connected, to the housing project.

Agencies include CAWES, Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing, Canadian Mental Health Association, Central Alberta Women’s Outreach, Cosmos, Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre, Piper Creek Foundation, Red Deer Housing Authority, and possibly the child advocacy centre that is planned for Red Deer.

“Rather than everyone doing their own separate project, we’re trying to accommodate as many needs within the community as possible under one roof,” Wheeliker said on Monday.

“There’s more that we share in common than differentiates us. We see we can do more together.”

By working collaboratively and integrating services, less people will fall through the cracks, he said about the project CAWES made public about a year ago.

“What we’re trying to do is combine our capacity to be able to serve a broader spectrum of the community.”

He said among those in need of emergency housing are families with both a mother and father, seniors experiencing financial difficulties or abuse, and stable, short-term housing for the homeless at People’s Place, operated by Safe Harbour, that is in need of a new home.

Housing would provide emergency accommodations, as well as three to six-month, and six to 12-month stays to help people get back on their feet.

Wheeliker said possible locations for the $13 to $15-million project are downtown near CAWES or in the area near Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. Agencies are waiting to see the results of a shelter study that Stantec is working on for the city that should be done early in the new year.

The project already received $50,000 from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation that will be used to develop a business plan and preliminary designs to prepare for when the government calls for housing project proposals in the spring.

Another project CAWES is getting ready to launch is a two-year pilot project Nurturing Parenting to work with parents to address conflict in the home to mitigate the effects on children.

Wheeliker said about 25 to 50 families per year will be able to access the program. Families would participate for eight to 20 weeks depending on their needs. The pilot would be open to families at the shelter, those working with child protection agencies, and families in the community.

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