Money to maintain an isolation space for Safe Harbour shelter clients being tested for COVID-19 is greatly appreciated.
“I’d really like to thank the province for all they have done, for standing so close next to us through all of this. They are at the ready to help however they can,” said Kath Hoffman, Safe Harbour executive director.
Clients are moved to another isolation site elsewhere if they test positive.
On Wednesday the province announced $21.5 million for Albertans experiencing homelessness and family violence.
A total of $13 million will go towards emergency homeless shelters and $2 million to emergency women’s shelters.
About $6.5 million will support about 285 isolation spaces in 10 communities to help alleviate pressure in the public health system by helping shelter clients who contract COVID-19 isolate and receive medical care if hospitalization is not required. Additional capacity may be added in some rural communities as needed.
About $900,000 will be allocated to Red Deer emergency shelters, isolation spaces, and the women’s shelter.
Hoffman said a COVID outbreak at the shelter in mid-September impacted both clients and staff. About five clients were typically using the isolation area. Keeping them separate from others helped to reduce the spread among Red Deer’s vulnerable homeless population.
“We’re glad that option is there. It was really needed in the last couple of months. Things have eased up in the last two weeks.”
The former Cannery Row Bingo was turned into a temporary daytime warming centre and overnight mat program for people facing homelessness who are intoxicated or under the influence when COVID-19 struck in spring 2020.
An emergency order signed by Red Deer’s Emergency Advisory Committee of Council allows the temporary emergency shelter to continue operating until Feb. 15, 2022.
Hoffman said about 70 people slept at the shelter Wednesday night, and about 110 dropped by the shelter during the day.
Mustard Seed, which runs a 46-bed sober shelter, soup kitchen and health centre in Riverside Meadows, was also thankful for the provincial government’s support.
“COVID-19 has made life very difficult for all of us but especially for the vulnerable in our community, so this extended financial support across our province will support many incredible organizations that are caring for people experiencing homelessness and poverty,” said Byron Bradley, managing director of central Alberta with the Mustard Seed Red Deer.
He said Mustard Seed is thankful for the province and the community at large for the support over the past five years which has enabled staff to provide wrap-around services to shelter clients.
“We have made several improvements in our sober shelter over the past few years and could not have done this without all the generosity that has been shown to us,” Bradley said.
Justin Marshall, press secretary with the Minister of Community and Social Services, said funding allocations for agencies varies greatly and is based on a number of factors dependent on agency needs such as location (cost of rent), type of services provided, facility size and layout and agency access to reserve funding.
“This funding helps individual agencies with expanding the shelter space, setting up isolation spaces, adjusting service delivery and where possible providing 24/7 shelter and day supports,” said Marshall in a statement.