A new shelter that opened today is the first of its kind in Saskatoon.
Called the Stabilization Emergency Shelter, it’s a 20-bed facility at the Lighthouse in downtown Saskatoon. It’s designed for men and women who need a place to stay — but who may also be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Saskatoon already has a brief detox centre, but space is limited, and it’s mainly designed for people who need medical intervention.
The new shelter is for people who are homeless and may be under the influence – but don’t need medical attention.
It’s being funded by the federal government. Staff at the 20-bed dorm-style facility are trained to work with people who are under the influence.
Police say it will help take some of the pressure off police cells.
“It could mean up to two or three-thousand fewer people coming into our detention cells at the Saskatoon Police Service,” said Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill. “We’ve had people that we’ve housed 80, 90 times within a year.”
Clients are not allowed to bring alcohol or drugs into the shelter – but it does give them a safe place to stay.
“We know homelessness is often connected with mental illness, and substance abuse,” said Tracy Mugglie, head of Mental Health and Addiction services for the Saskatoon Health Region.
“Working with the Lighthouse will help reduce health disparity for these vulnerable members of the community.”
It’s also hoped support provided by the shelter will help people stabilize their lives, and move into housing.