Gap opens in Red Deer tenant services

The cancellation of Red Deer’s CiRS Landlord and Tenant Services in December 2009 shows a marked gap where people in need really relied on the service, says city Social Planning Department manager Scott Cameron.

The cancellation of Red Deer’s CiRS Landlord and Tenant Services in December 2009 shows a marked gap where people in need really relied on the service, says city Social Planning Department manager Scott Cameron.

Cameron spoke to news reporters on Monday after Raymond Downie of Calgary’s Broadview Applied Research Group presented a report, An Evaluation of Landlord and Tenant Services in Red Deer, to city council on Monday.

“This is an important reminder to all of us that we do have vulnerable citizens in our community and it’s a responsibility for all of us to try and look at how to deliver services to folks that have trouble accessing services,” said Cameron. “As the gap grows, it becomes more difficult to provide the service and have the resources.”

He said the impact has been felt since the city closed down the Landlord and Tenant Services program.

It provided resources and information to landlords and tenants through a non-judicial avenue.

“There are people who live in our community that find it difficult to advocate for themselves, whether it be for landlord or tenancy issues or other matters,” said Cameron. “If you have mental issues or addictions or language barriers, it’s difficult to speak for yourself.”

For instance, the Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic’s pilot Tenant Support Program showed that half of the 114 clients required assistance beyond the initial contact.

The city had decided to shut the program down because it had determined that the provincial government was mandated through legislation to provide such services. Landlord and tenant inquiries have since been referred to the Service Alberta 1-800-number.

Downie said he understands that there has been no formal evaluation of the provincial line.

Councillor Lynne Mulder said it’s important to share this report with the provincial government. “They need to take some ownership and responsibility here,” she said.

“Our question was should the provincial government fund or should the municipal government, and we felt the province should because it was their mandate. And now if it’s not meeting our goals, then it should be the provincial government’s responsibility to make it right.”

Council unanimously received the report for information on Monday. Councillor Dianne Wyntjes was absent.

They agreed the report would be referred to the Red Deer Family and Community Support Services Board, the local Community Housing Advisory Board, and other appropriate agencies, plus the necessary provincial department.

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