More government funds have been granted to help alleviate housing gaps in Red Deer.
Red Deer city council heard Monday that both levels of government have put extra money into services that support housing the homeless — especially in light of the community’s additional measures in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
The government top-ups include an additional $582,668 given to the Outreach and Support Services Initiative, and an extra $324,709 for COVID-19-related expenses as part of the Reaching Home federal grant.
Also, an additional $200,000 was provided to the Reaching Home Indigenous program for COVID-19 response.
The additional funds will be spread over a number of programs — from case management to rehousing and transitional housing for adults and youths, to co-ordinated entry for those who need help finding affordable, suitable housing.
About $213,000 was left unallocated. Since the homeless shelter operated by Safe Harbour has to be moved to a larger space that allows for more physical distancing and isolation, council was told some of this money can be spent to cover this expense.
The full costs have not yet been tabulated.
The only area of housing in which the city has not reached its financial target is for permanent supportive accommodation. Councillors learned this is because developers are needed to step forward to take on these projects.
Coun. Ken Johnston expressed gratitude that the provincial and federal governments are considering the needs of vulnerable people.
He added that it occured to him “how financially fragile most Canadians are, when it comes to a sudden loss of income,” as many people experienced at the start of the pandemic.
He commended those working to house the homeless, calling their efforts “nothing short of heroic.”