Tag Archives: Homelessness Partnering Strategy

Saskatoon organizations receive funding to fight homelessness

Via Eagle Feather News

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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.

FullSizeRender (6)“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.”

Health Bus moves to new downtown location

(April 28, 2014) Saskatoon – Saskatoon Health Region’s Primary Health Bus is heading downtown this afternoon to a new location. On Mondays the bus will be located at The Lighthouse Supported Living to provide health-care services to residents and other clients downtown. “We knew when we started the Primary Health Bus there was a need in the community for us to reach out and make health care more accessible,” says Sheila Achilles, director Primary Health Care, Saskatoon Health Region. “Making one of our stops The Lighthouse means we will be able to make our services more accessible to those in the downtown core who wouldn’t otherwise receive this type of care.”


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The Primary Health Bus is a partnership with MD Ambulance and is staffed by a nurse practitioner and a paramedic. Since beginning as a pilot project in the summer of 2008 the Health Bus has been able to bring services directly to under-served populations, reach those who may not receive care, and provide an alternative for those seeking care for minor conditions at hospital emergency rooms. In 2012-13, 5,717 clients visited the Primary Health Bus. Fifty-seven per cent of those clients were adults between 20 and 60 years of age and 35 per cent were children and youth.

The Lighthouse operates The Dubé Lighthouse facility, which houses supported living units for some of the most vulnerable citizens in the community, including the working poor, people with physical or intellectual disabilities, and people with addictions. The Lighthouse also operates emergency shelters for men and women, a Stabilization Unit for intoxicated individuals, and 58 affordable housing suites.

“Many clients of the Lighthouse and the wider downtown community are in need of greater health care support but are reluctant to use walk-in clinics or do not have a family doctor,” says Don Windels, Executive Director of the Lighthouse. “By providing services closer to where clients live, we hope that use of emergency services and ambulance rides will be reduced.”

The City of Saskatoon has shown its support for this initiative by making parking stalls available for the Primary Health Bus to park at The Lighthouse on Mondays. Saskatoon Health Region and The Lighthouse thank the City for making this location accessible.

Saskatoon Health Region’s Primary Health Bus operates seven days a week from noon to 7:45 p.m. See the complete schedule on our website at https://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/locations_services/Services/Primary-Health/Pages/HealthBus.aspx.


A glimpse at Saskatoon’s first shelter for drunk people

A glimpse at Saskatoon's first shelter for drunk people

One of the beds is in use at the Lighthouse.

Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The Starphoenix , The Starphoenix

The sun is still up, and Geoff is already so drunk he can barely stand.

Somehow, he’s found his way to Lighthouse Supported Living’s stabilization unit, a place where he can sleep it off. Geoff, who is homeless, has come here every evening for weeks now. It’s the only shelter in the city that will accept him when he’s drunk.

“I’m worse than I usually am. I’m bad,” he says, as he steadies himself on a chair at the front of the room. Behind him, 20 beds are lined up in rows. By midnight, they will likely be filled.

Before this place opened in July, men and women who were drunk or high were often taken to city police detention cells, emergency rooms or the health region’s Brief and Social Detox Unit. In October alone, the new Lighthouse unit drew more than 400 visits.

Police say they’ve seen a 30 per cent reduction in the number of intoxicated arrests coming into their detention unit since the Lighthouse beds opened.

Now, the Lighthouse unit has extended its hours to meet the growing demand.

“I just drink because, for myself, there is no alternative,” Geoff says.

Geoff is interviewed by Liz Wymer, one of two workers who staff the Lighthouse’s 4 p.m. to midnight shift. The staff members are there to make sure he doesn’t need medical attention, that he is not suicidal, and that he will survive the night. As long as they can wake up and go to the bathroom on their own, clients are usually cleared to stay.

On this particular evening, another worker, Sam Tait, calls the mobile crisis unit because Geoff makes a comment about suicide during his interview. A crisis worker will visit Geoff before the evening is over. Until then, Tait and Wymer will keep a special eye on him.

“We’re glad you made it here,” Wymer tells him before Geoff takes off his sweater, shoes and socks and puts them in a bin. His sweater is covered with dirt from slipping on the ice outside. The workers will wash his clothes while he sleeps it off.

The unit is open daily from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., but workers and others who deal with the intoxicated people daily say it would be used if it was open even longer.

“The level of intoxication has really built up from the hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” Lesley Prefontaine, who is in charge of the city’s new community support officers, told a meeting earlier this week. The CSOs, who patrol the downtown, Riversdale and Broadway areas, regularly encounter drunk or passed out people.

The old protocol was to take them to the health region’s detox unit or call police. Since the Lighthouse beds opened, Prefontaine and her team have been referring people there instead.

The new extended hours are the direct result of demand for shelter beds that can accept intoxicated people.

“It was used 404 times in October, which is just an unbelievable amount,” said Dee-Ann Mercier, spokeswoman for the shelter. “It’s something that is actually going to save people’s lives.”

The federal government’s Homeless Partnering Strategy program gave the stabilization shelter more than $200,000 for its first year of operations and $198,848 to renovate a permanent space.

The Saskatoon Health Region and the Saskatoon Police Service are also providing some financial support, but Mercier said most of the funding is limited to a oneyear pilot project.

It would be better to keep the Lighthouse unit open 24 hours a day, but it needs permanent funding, she said. “Police are responding to these calls all day, not just at night … There is a big cost to having in 24-hour facility, but it would be worth it.”

Back at the unit, Sam Tait explains that the beds are more than a safe place for drunk people to sleep.

“More than these beds, these guys need compassion,” he says.

“We try to develop a relationship with them over time, so that if you catch them in the right moment, you can get through to them.”

By suppertime, Geoff is ready for a long night’s sleep. He slips into the donated clothes the shelter provides and finds his favourite bed.

“I just went over the edge this afternoon. I just need a place to stabilize. As soon as I stabilize myself, I’ll be better,” he says.

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Lighthouse Stabilization Shelter Helping Those In Need

The first month of the new Stabilization Shelter in the Lighthouse has proved the absolute need for emergency housing for those who are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. People who have not committed a criminal act but are being held in police detention due to being intoxicated has gone down 30% since the Stabilization Shelter at the Lighthouse opened.

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This morning some key stats from the two year pilot project of providing a Primary Care Paramedic in Saskatoon Police Services cells reiterated the need for the community to come together to help those who are struggling in our community with addictions and mental health issues.

Some of those stats the Action Accord released today include examining the period from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013:

During the two year period, 3,984 people were held in police service detention solely due to being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. On average that is 5.5 people per day and represents 19.8 per cent of all people in detention.

During the same period, 2,670 people were turned away from the Brief Detoxification Unit because it was full. This equates to 3.7 people per day.

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The Stabilization Shelter at the Lighthouse is composed of 20 army cots which can be reconfigured based on how many people check in to sleep for the night. On average there are 10-12 people staying in the shelter but that number has been as high as 15. More people are expected to use the facility as the weather cools and more people become aware that they can come to the Lighthouse for a safe, warm sleep while they may be under the influence.

When individuals arrive they are triaged to make sure they are stable enough to spend the night in the shelter. If they require medical supervision they are referred to Brief and Social Detox or the Emergency. Violent or unruly behaviour is not tolerated at all, and if people are combative the police are called.

Generally people come in, take off their outer layer of clothes and go to sleep fairly quickly. Staff at the Lighthouse wash their clothes while they are sleeping so that they have something fresh to put on in the morning. Toast, coffee, and juice or water is served in the morning to help settle the stomach and provide some nourishment.

As people leave for the day they have the opportunity to talk to one of our councillors on staff. Long-term stable housing is the focus for all those we serve, as well as proper health care or rehabilitation services, and employment opportunities or any other issues that may be affecting them. The Lighthouse has a volunteer which co-ordinates an AA meeting every Monday night at 8:00pm.

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By providing a broad spectrum of housing the Lighthouse is able to meet the needs of the more vulnerable and at-risk individuals in our community. The Stabilization Shelter is an opportunity for individuals to learn about opportunities which will enable better lifestyle choices and hopefully inspire long-term changes.

Thanks to the Saskatoon Health Region and the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership for their support of this project which is impacting the lives of so many in our community.