The 24/7 Integrated Response Hub and emergency shelter in Wetaskiwin is transitioning to an outreach model as the hub moves from its current location at the Civic Building in town.
Without a building to operate emergency housing out of, the hub will now focus on 24/7 mobile outreach. Through mobile outreach the organizers will meet clients where they are and respond to crisis calls.
When the hub started operations in November 2020 they were not able to move into the building they wanted due to Wetaskiwin city council voting down a change in zoning that was needed for the building to be used as a shelter and hub.
In May, the hub was given notice that its lease in the Civic Building was revoked and that the building needs to be vacated by Aug. 10. The Open Door Association, the operator of the hub, have agreed with Wetaskiwin city council and Wetaskiwin residents since the beginning of the process that the Civic Building is not the ideal location for the Hub.
However, without a location to transfer into before the end of their lease, the hub is preparing to help clients move out and back into the community, where many will be facing homelessness and unstable living conditions, before Aug. 4.
In an update with the community hosted by the Leduc, Nisku & Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Open Door Association explained that on average the hub has 40 to 60 individuals using the emergency housing nightly.
Since their opening, the hub has supported over 450 individuals.
In the community update, executive director of the Open Door Association, Jessica Hutton, says that the current situation could be detrimental the progress the hub has made with their clients and the community.
“We have 250 people that are vulnerable that in two weeks will be back in the community,” says Hutton.
“We may very well have quite a crisis on our hands.”
Mayor Tyler Gandam expressed frustration at the divide in the community and at criticism that the city isn’t doing enough to deal with homelessness.
“If the community doesn’t want to get on board to help solve this, then I don’t know what the solution is going to be,” says Gandam. “We are never going to find one.”
With the Hub in transition, Hutton is asking for community members to be patient as the Open Door Association responds to outreach calls.