Red Deer’s Winter Inn closed as funding falls short

The Winter Inn program in Red Deer that has kept homeless people safe and warm will not operate this winter.

Several men wait for the doors to open outside the Adventist Centre Winter Inn program in Red Deer’s downtown Tuesday night.

The Winter Inn program in Red Deer that has kept homeless people safe and warm will not operate this winter.

Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing did not get its usual funding from the Community Housing Advisory Board to run Winter Inn.

“Winter Inn is not a go,” said Tricia Haggarty-Roberts, assistant executive director with Safe Harbour, on Wednesday.

“However, Safe Harbour is committed to finding solutions that will work within the community, be respectful of the community and respectful of the clientele to make sure they’re safe.”

On Tuesday night, the advisory board made its final decision on the funding.

Safe Harbour Society previously received $110,000 to run the Winter Inn from about November to April. The money comes from the province but is allocated by the advisory board.

To deal with homelessness, the province is focusing on permanent housing rather than shelters. Safe Harbour agrees with this direction, but recognizes that shelter beds are necessary to serve people in emergency situations and to assist people waiting for permanent housing. Shelters also help to reduce the impact on other services like police, emergency services and hospital, the organization says.

“Our issue at the moment is a lack of permanent affordable housing in the community so our shelters are bogged down,” Haggarty-Roberts said.

Last season, 326 different people used Winter Inn, which was located on the main floor of Loaves and Fishes, at 6002 54th Ave., in partnership with Safe Harbour.

Safe Harbour also runs People’s Place emergency shelter for 23 adults in the basement of Loaves and Fishes, and operates Mats overnight shelter for 20 adults who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at 5246 53rd Ave.

Haggarty-Roberts said the Community Housing Advisory Board has allowed Safe Harbour to keep $22,000 in surplus funds to assist the homeless, but the money cannot be used to recreate another Winter Inn.

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