Warming centre filling gap in service

New daytime programs for homeless adults in Red Deer are helping 40 to 60 people stay warm each day.

New daytime programs for homeless adults in Red Deer are helping 40 to 60 people stay warm each day.

Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing has extended hours for its day support program and Seventh-day Adventist Centre has a warming centre to help the homeless.

The services have been available for about two weeks, to fill the service gap after Berachah Place closed its doors in October.

Both the warming centre, at 5014 49th St., and Safe Harbour’s extended program, at 5246 53rd Ave., will run seven days a week until April 30.

Safe Harbour staffs both sites.

“One of the criteria for these programs is that these folks are actually homeless so Safe Harbour is familiar with a good majority of them. But not everyone who is homeless in Red Deer stays at Safe Harbour so we are meeting some new folks,” said Stacey Carmichael, director of programs with Safe Harbour, on Wednesday.

Safe Harbour will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for those with physical and mental disabilities, illnesses and those under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Shower and laundry facilities are also available.

Individuals with fewer care needs are using the warming centre at the church daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Meals are not provided at either location as there are soup kitchens operating in the city. However, coffee, hot chocolate and healthy snacks are available.

People can also receive referrals and assistance with housing, cultural services and other community resources.

“We’re very deliberate about making those connections for folks because at the end of the day our philosophy is that we don’t believe a warmup centre or shelter is adequate for folks, and we’re pushing for permanent housing and encouraging folks to take advantage of what’s available in the community,” Carmichael said.

The two services are funded by the City of Red Deer, which provided $130,000. Alberta Health Services also funds the Safe Harbour day support program.

Carmichael said beds and mats at overnight shelters in the city are full.

“We’re not having to turn away that many folks at all this winter, which is great.”

There is space for 35 people at People’s Place, as well as 11 mats available for winter use until the end of April.

Safe Harbour’s Mat program operates with 26 mats for homeless who are intoxicated or high.

“They are certainly being utilized. I think we’ve done a good job identifying the shelter beds we need.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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