Six agencies were given the green light to deliver housing supports under a new framework starting on July 1.
Council stamped its approval on the Community Housing Advisory Board’s recommendations for the Outreach and Support Services Initiative grants. Every year the city receives $3.44 million to allocate to service providers.
Agencies such as Safe Harbour, McMan Central, Red Deer Native Friendship Society, Canadian Mental Health Association and Central Alberta Women’s Outreach Society and Third Sector Services will receive support to run the programs to help end homelessness in the city.
The money will go to programs to support housing for youth, winter emergency support, Indigenous cultural support, permanent supported housing and others.
This funding agreement is for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2019.
At the same time council heard the changes to the framework, which will include a single entry point for housing programs and an emphasis on matching the right person with the right program.
The system builds on Everyone’s Home: Red Deer’s Five Year Plan to End Homelessness, and focuses on individuals who have been homeless the longest.
Roger Goodwin, CHAB board chair said these changes will ultimately make the most positive impact for those experiencing homelessness and the rest of the community.
The city’s goal is to end homelessness by 2018.
Under the framework, 115 of the longest-term shelter guests and 43 rough sleepers who do not use shelters will be housed, which will eliminate street homelessness.
Other priorities are to bring the average length of stay in shelters to four days and to develop targeted prevention, diversion and rapid rehousing measures
Coun. Ken Johnston said the city has the courage to state those numbers and back them up.
“I couldn’t be happier with the agencies that have come forward and stepped in the particular social problem,” said Johnston. “Thirteen per cent of our homeless population account for over half of our shelter space and 57 per cent of our homeless population suffer from mental illness and 68 per cent suffer from substance abuse.”
Johnston said when there are investments in housing, policing, enforcement and incarceration, hospital and other costs go won. Studies have shown that a homeless person costs the city $43,000 in social, policing and agency supports compared to $17,000 that a housed person costs the municipality.
“I want to put a flag in the ground today and be proud of it in a year or two to say Red Deer no longer has a homeless problem,” said Johnston. “This is a great day in the city and a great day to put our flag in the ground on this issue.”