City takes over funding for homeless in winter

For the first time, the City of Red Deer is in charge with the distribution of provincial funding earmarked to target homelessness during the winter.

For the first time, the City of Red Deer is in charge with the distribution of provincial funding earmarked to target homelessness during the winter.

The province has long accepted applications and decided how to divide the Winter Emergency Response Program grant, but this responsibility was handed over to municipality this year.

It’s a move that will allow the city to better co-ordinate initiatives highlighted in its five-year plan to end homelessness, EveryOne’s Home, said Roxana Nielsen Stewart, Red Deer’s program co-ordinator for housing.

Red Deer will use the $110,000 provincial grant to expand shelters and services for the homeless population from Nov. 1 to March 31, Nielson Steward said.

“The focus of this Winter Emergency Response Plan is to increase the number of real beds, food and services provided during the sever winter conditions,” she said.

Winter Inn provided around 20 beds for homeless people last winter. People’s Place usually has 23 beds, and its detox mat program for people using drugs and alcohol has room for 20.

The Red Deer Youth and Volunteer Centre has eight beds and there are 36 beds at the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter.

The Community Housing Advisory Board is accepting proposals until Sept. 6 from agencies that provide shelter during winter. Board members will review the applications at a meeting on Sept. 14.

CHAB will make a recommendation on how to distribute the one-time funding to city council at a later date.

ptrotter@reddeeradvocate