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Safe Harbour prepares to keep homeless warm this winter

Welcomes Red Deer’s efforts to create permanent supportive housing units
Safe Harbour Society’s shelter is located in the former Cannery Row Bingo. (Photo contributed)

Safe Harbour Society is preparing for a busy winter at its homeless shelter with a re-invigorated housing-focused and recovery-orientated approach.

“During a couple days of heavy rain in the summer we had 204 people in the shelter so we are certainly getting ready to expand our space if need be for the winter,” said executive director Kath Hoffman who was grateful to have such a large shelter space.

Located in the former Cannery Row Bingo, the 24-hour shelter with a day and night mat program, is available for people facing homelessness who are intoxicated or under the influence.

She said the number of clients who used the shelter in recent months ranged from 160 to 190 per day so demand didn’t drop much when summer arrived.


Extreme cold: Red Deer’s Safe Harbour shelter is accommodating up to 188 people overnight

After recent consultations with staff and community partners, along with interviews with clients, Safe Harbour is looking at adding office space in the shelter to bring in more resources to better assist clients taking the next steps in their recovery and housing efforts.

“We can’t wait to do better. We want to build a resource centre there. We want to have some more office space so we can welcome more partners into the shelter,” Hoffman said.

She said when they first moved into Cannery Row the number of clients quadrupled, but staff didn’t. Now the focus is on enhancing the team and designating specific roles.

“We’re really focused on being a housing-focused and recovery-orientated shelter.”

She said the availablity of the new addiction treatment services at Red Deer Dream Centre and Red Deer Recovery Community has helped, and staff want to do more for clients to keep them moving forward when there is a glimpse of: “I can’t take this anymore. I need help.”

“For many of them, and as sick as they all are, that takes small steps.”


Teepee built at Fort Normandeau in Red Deer

Earlier this month, Red Deer city council announced efforts to access federal housing fund to set up a new $6 million municipal incentive grant that would be used to create up to 80 permanent supportive housing units.

Hoffman said that type of housing is exactly what is needed to help everyone. Red Deer has the people to fill those units which would reduce community concerns.

“What fantastic news that was. The community should be celebrating that out loud. We haven’t had any housing options for years. The answer to homelessness is housing.”

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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