Safe Harbour disappointed over continued wait for shelter funding

Last March, Red Deer was promised a $7 million, 120-bed emergency homeless shelter by the then NDP Government of Alberta.

That funding was not included in the UCP’s first budget tabled Thursday.

Mayor Tara Veer reiterated there is a need for 24/7 shelter in our city.

“We’ve discussed this need with the Minister of Seniors and Housing and we will be working alongside her in the coming months to convey the scope and needs in Red Deer to ensure it is included in future budgets,” she said.

RELATED: Homeless shelter funding on hold pending UCP budget

Kath Hoffman, executive director at Safe Harbour Society, appreciates the mayor’s comments but is nonetheless disappointed with the lack of funding.

“We’ve been trying to get the resources we need for shelter for 14 years, and the crisis that we’re experiencing right now has just stretched us beyond our capacity. The bandaid resources we’ve had to apply have fallen off,” Hoffman said.

RELATED: Fingers crossed for continued provincial funding for Red Deer’s warming centre

“They know our need for sure. The numbers speak for themselves, including the fact that Red Deer has always had the lowest shelter spaces per capita,” she added.

“It takes the wind out of your sails, but it’s nothing we’re not used to. We’ll adjust our course and it’ll be steady as she goes.”

Hoffman also noted that provincial funding has been extended by six months for Safe Harbour to keep the doors of its temporary warming centre open. Funding from the previous government ran out September 30.

Meantime, The City of Red Deer continues to clean up rough sleeper camps, with $400,000 budgeted in 2019. From January to May 2019, 121 camps were tended to, twice as many compared to the same period in 2018.