Over 200 walkers together raised over $52,000 for the Coldest Night of the Year walk in Saskatoon which raised funds for the Bridge and the Lighthouse. Thanks also to the Saskatoon Transit, Co-op and PotashCorp for their support!
More than 30 homeless people in Saskatoon have warm new winter coats, thanks to a small group of young aboriginal people.
“I felt really good. I knew these people, I work with these people every day, and to see the looks on their faces and their gratitude, it was an awesome, awesome feeling,” said Dawn Mentuck, a stabilization unit support worker at The Lighthouse, Saskatoon’s downtown shelter.
This is the third year the group has set out to help people in need over the holidays, Mentuck said. They include Matreaca Munro, Myrna Durocher, Tricia Gardypie, Julia Mudrey, Lanny McDonald and Rylan Smallchild.
Mentuck often sees people in extreme need come through the Lighthouse doors.
“Some of them don’t have any kind of income — they’re not on social services, they don’t have an address where they can stay, so there’s a lot of people that use the shelter and detox and use the outreach van, and these were the kind of people we were aiming for.”
While the city has programs to help, such as free meals at the Friendship Inn, homeless people have trouble finding places to pick out clothing they need, she said.
The group raised $1,638 at a steak night earlier this month, which bought 26 men’s coats, 11 women’s coats, and a gift card for a woman with three children whose house had burned down.
They gave away most of the coats on Sunday, with a few left in the outreach van to hand out.
“The reaction was so awesome. Most of the time they would give us big hugs and smiles and big thank-yous — just awesome expressions of gratitude,” Mentuck said.
Released on November 20, 2015
The total cost of this project is $4 million. Funding of $1.5 million from the government was provided by the Ministry of Health ($1 million), the Ministry of Justice ($250,000), and the Ministry of Social Services through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation ($250,000). The City of Saskatoon contributed $126,000 toward the project and additional funding was provided through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and other fundraising.
“Our government is proud to work with Lighthouse to help vulnerable citizens in this community have improved access to a safe place to live with supports in place if required,” Social Services Minister and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Housing Corporation Donna Harpauer said. “This aligns with a number of priorities outlined in our Provincial Housing Strategy, which includes supporting individuals and families in greatest housing need. These two initiatives are examples of that vision in action.”
“We are pleased to see the completion of the Lighthouse Stabilization and Wellness Centre project in Saskatoon,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said. “We are proud to support our community partners like Lighthouse, who are reaching out into communities to help people improve and maintain their health and wellbeing. This project also supports the recommendations in the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, specifically ensuring that individuals with addictions issues have access to timely and appropriate care.”
“Our ministry is proud to partner in upgrading this valuable community facility,” Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell said. “We know how important it is that places like the Dubé Lighthouse exist to provide shelter and housing for vulnerable individuals who require extra support.”
“We are grateful to the many community members who came together to volunteer and donate toward the ‘Up’ Capital Campaign, Les and Irene Dubé who led with an amazing gift of $1 million, and the Provincial Government for seeing the value in this project,” Lighthouse Executive Director Don Windels said. “We are thankful the expanded Stabilization Unit will be operational before this winter so we can continue to provide emergency shelter to those in need in our community.”
The project features a stabilization shelter with approximately 38 beds for individuals who are manageably intoxicated. The second floor provides programming and office space, and the third floor features a wellness center with exercise facilities and atrium.
Since November 2007, 167 affordable rental units have been completed by the province for those considered ‘hard to house’ and facing multiple challenges such as disabilities and addictions in Saskatoon. Including the Lighthouse, an additional 40 units are currently under construction.
The Lighthouse provides housing for approximately 230 individuals on any given day. It provides 126 permanent housing units and about 94 emergency shelter spaces for vulnerable individuals, including the working poor, people with physical or intellectual disabilities, and people with addictions.
There’s a new addictions counsellor at the Lighthouse, and she goes by the name of Leanne Murdaugh.
“She’s very respectful and kind,” says David, a client of Leanne’s, who visits the Lighthouse almost every day to connect with Leanne.
David recently moved out of the Lighthouse and into a home in the community after staying temporarily in the shelter’s stabilization unit, which provides a safe place to stay for people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Prior to the Region’s Better Every Day14 Day Challenge, the unit was open only at night, but as of March 2, it is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week as part of a pilot project aimed at reducing emergency room visits by those seeking services that the unit can provide.
“The stabilization unit is a safe, non-judgmental place for people to go,” says Leanne, who provides addictions services in the unit alongside a case manager. “Having the unit open 24 hours a day keeps our clients safe. They know they can come here and lay down if they need to, rather than having to go to the hospital.”
A familiar face to the Lighthouse, Leanne worked in the stabilization unit, as well as the men’s and women’s shelters, for a year as a case manager prior to accepting her current role as addictions counsellor.
“One thing that’s really important for people who have addiction issues is a familiar face and a connection with someone they trust,” says Leanne. “Our clients already know who I am. They know our stabilization unit staff, and our nurse and nurse practitioner, so they’re comfortable and are able to come to us with some of the things they’re dealing with. As a team we can refer them to the appropriate care.”
Having an addictions counsellor onsite means that Leanne does not have to refer as many clients offsite for treatment in the community, where wait lists can exceed four to six weeks. Since the expansion of the stabilization unit, her recovery group numbers have increased, more than doubling on some days from six to 13.
“I’ve got a lot more people coming to recovery group now, and I think it’s because they’re already in the building,” Leanne noted. “Instead of having to get up at 7 a.m. and leave the unit because it’s closing for the day, they’re sticking around to sleep and eat breakfast, where I can chat with them. It’s easier to connect with clients and to refer them to treatment because I’m not running around looking for them.”
Leanne is not the only one who has noticed a positive impact on the clients who are accessing expanded services at the Lighthouse.
“I see a difference in the clients,” says Dave Thiessen, Lighthouse general manager. “They’re happy and excited, and seem proud to live here and have access to all of these services.”
Gaps in services mean that many people who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness in Saskatoon are tragically falling through the cracks. Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) and the Community Advisory Board on Saskatoon Homelessness (CAB-SH) are proud to announce new services and supports for individuals and families who face homelessness which will fill these gaps.
The Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) aims to prevent and reduce homelessness across Canada. The HPS program is generously providing $464,734 for these important capital and service projects:
1. The Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre will receive $35,306 in capital funding to renovate their client meeting space and lobby.
2. The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc. will receive $55,941 in capital funding to develop a bed bug heating chamber and renovate the laundry facilities for their supported living clients.
3. The Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre in partnership with the Friendship Inn will receive $223,526 in multi-year funding for three new staff positions to address homelessness. Two Rapid Rehousing Case Managers and one Centralized Intake staff person will assess needs and support individuals and families to find housing, access income supports and work towards housing stability. The Centralized Intake position will serve clients who may be referred to a number of appropriate services, including Housing First case management.
4. The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc. will receive $150,261 in multi-year funding for a Housing Locator position to help locate and secure housing for Housing First and non-Housing First clients in Saskatoon.
“Our Government is proud to support the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership and its partners, The Lighthouse Supported Living and the Saskatoon Indian Métis Friendship Centre, and all the work they do in Saskatoon,” said Kelly Block, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for Saskatoon–Rosetown–Biggar. “With a roof over their heads, all Canadians can prosper as we work together towards eliminating homelessness.”
The four new staff positions will work collaboratively with Housing First case managers at Crisis Intervention Services, as well as other community agencies that provide case management and support to people who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.
“Our organization has witnessed the tremendous difficulty people experience when trying to find housing they can afford, especially when they move into Saskatoon for the first time,” says Bill Mintram, Executive Director of the Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre. “We are hopeful that the new staff will be able to assess the need, redirect people out of shelters and provide real support to secure permanent housing.”
Sandra Stack, Executive Director of the Friendship Inn, sees this work as a whole community effort:
“Providing housing to a homeless person or family is grounding. From a place of stability, they can tackle other issues. We are very excited to be in collaboration with the Friendship Centre and our other community partners to fill these critical gaps in support. My hope is that the community as a whole, Saskatoon citizens as neighbours and landlords, will be supportive and as excited as we are about reducing homelessness.”
These investments at the Lighthouse that will have a significant impact on the quality of life for Lighthouse residents and those who have experienced homelessness in Saskatoon, says Don Windels, Executive Director of the Lighthouse Supported Living Inc.
“The Housing Locator is a key part of Housing First, finding appropriate housing for some of the most vulnerable, high-needs and at-risk individuals in our community.”