More homeless being housed in Red Deer

Those sleeping rough and long-time homeless a focus

The latest report on Red Deer’s homeless show more people are being housed.

Community programs helped house or provided housing supports to 728 people, including 229 who were newly housed or supported, according to Closer to Home: 2015/2016 Annual Report on Red Deer’s Homelessness Initiatives.

In 2014/15, programs housed or supported a total of 581 people, including 192 newly housed or supported.

Roxana Nielsen Stewart, the city’s social planning supervisor, said while it’s difficult to do a straight comparison between the reports because some clients overlap between the years and some move on to permanent housing, there was an increase in the number housed or supported.

Mayor Tara Veer said the latest report does reflect progress.

“It also speaks to Red Deer as having a substantial need as a regional service hub. I think that we’ll need to watch it closely in terms of the numbers particularly given the provincial economy and the number of citizens living on the threshold of financial vulnerability,” Veer said.

Nielsen Stewart said the biggest change reflected in the report was the move to a co-ordinated process so agencies work together to match clients to Housing First programs.

“That was a real key shift for us in this reporting time period and it was a really successful shift. The agencies have been really happy with the process. The vulnerable people were trying to work with, we served them better. We were able to match the right program to them and that helps in the success rate,” Nielsen Stewart said.

In 2016, the city’s focus was on homeless who sleep outside and those who have been homeless the longest.

Program funding in 2015/16 came from a $3.39 million Outreach & Support Services provincial grant and a $421,528 Homeless Partnering Strategy federal grant.

“Ultimately we’re able to deliver these programs because of service agencies and charities in the community. Because we’re making progress, it’s important to acknowledge the efforts of our front-line service providers,” Veer said.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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