Federal changes announced to Canada's Homelessness Partnering Strategy will make a difference in Prince Albert, according to the Manager of Prince Albert's Riverbank Development program.
Brian Howell read the details of Monday's announcement from Federal Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. The federal government has responded to complaints of too much red tape, by giving cities more leeway with how they spend money on the condition they can cut the ranks of the homeless by 50 per cent. The Riverbank Development Corporation is the local entity responsible for administering the federal funding for Prince Albert's Homeward Bound Project. Howell said he has not heard what sort of timeline is involved or how Prince Albert may meet it.
"You know a lot of [the homeless issue in Prince Albert] is people coming here because we are a gateway community and just not making it so I think it will be interesting to see us reduce it but you know with five years and some ongoing funding we will certainly be able to make a difference," he said.
The revamped homeless strategy, called ``Reaching Home,'' will spend $2.1 billion over the next decade. The Prince Albert Homeward Bound program, which was created out of the larger federal program, received $547,000 annually to pay for local initiatives in the city. Howell said he is glad to hear the funding amount will stay the same and he said he is also glad to hear they have more flexibility with how they spend the money. The federal government has asked though for cities to make some upgrades.
"There will be a focus on a better data collection system and a more integrated community response so in order to continue to access the funding, Prince Albert will have to work on these systems," Howell said.
Howell said they have already been in contact with their service providers and don't anticipate any problems with that.
The city’s most recent homeless count took place April 18, and looked at the number of people living on the streets along with those using local shelters. In Prince Albert, preliminary results showed 47 people were using shelter services in the city on that day while another 30 were unsheltered, or staying on the street.
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
-- with files from The Canadian Press
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