Pilot project launched to help homeless youth

The City of Red Deer is taking steps to address an under-served and vulnerable group of people in Red Deer with a new homeless pilot program.

The City of Red Deer is taking steps to address an under-served and vulnerable group of people in Red Deer with a new homeless pilot program.

According to the 2012 point-in-time homeless count, there were 279 homeless people, of which about 30 were youth. The city has issued a request for proposals for a homeless youth pilot program to address the problem.

The project should be aimed at youth aged 16 to 24 and follow the Housing First path.

Janell Bunbury, Red Deer Social Planning Department program co-ordinator, said Housing First reflects the city’s strategy to address homelessness.

“It would provide immediate housing, but also provide the supports youth need to be successful in that housing,” said Bunbury.

Those supports range from addictions counselling to mentoring youth on how to pay bills, rent, dealing with landlords, locating housing, proper budgeting and it should have some life skills development.

“Reconnecting with family, helping them access training and educational opportunities as well,” said Bunbury.

The proposal, which has received some provincial government funding, has a budget of $124,344.

The city has an option to renew the project for a further period, provided the program meets the provincial outreach and support services initiative criteria for funding.

Work done by the Red Deer youth homeless strategy group over the past year led the city to put forth this request. Bunbury said the city worked with the strategy group to develop a framework for the pilot project.

“The key component of what we want the project to look like is support for self-sufficiency and for a healthy transition to adulthood and case management,” said Bunbury.

Two orientation sessions will be held on Thursday for people to understand the scope and direction of the project. One goes from 9 to 10 a.m. and the other from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. To register, call 403-342-8100.

Proposals are due by 4 p.m. on July 10. For more information on the request for proposals, visit www.reddeer.ca/socialplanning.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com