A temporary solution to provide emergency shelter to those without housing is coming to Lethbridge.
On Tuesday, the Government of Alberta announced that the Blood Tribe Department of Health will receive $1 million through the Action Plan on Homelessness to provide critical and short-term housing to those most vulnerable during winter.
The health ministry currently runs the 121 permanent shelter spaces in Lethbridge, using $3 million in annual funding from the province.
With the additional investment, a modular trailer will be set up outside the main site to provide up to 50 temporary emergency shelter spaces.
Blood Tribe Department of Health COO Kash Shade said: “Additional shelter capacity for the winter months is critical in Lethbridge given the estimated number of people at risk of experiencing homelessness.”
“We are appreciative of the Alberta government’s commitment to helping the most vulnerable people. The additional space during the winter months also alleviates stress that our shelter staff experience by enabling them to safely and appropriately assist the most vulnerable,” said Shade.
According to Andrew Malcom, the City of Lethbridge manager of Community Social Development, it’s a welcome investment.
“The community at large, we’ve been concerned about shelter capacity in Lethbridge over recent winters and our ability to support the most vulnerable in our community.”
Malcom said in October, city council approved $230,000 of federal Reaching Home Funding to the Blood Tribe to support daytime programming, ultimately providing a 24-hour warming option on site, something the city provided in the form of city busses last year.
“This modular unit, this trailer, is the replacement for the buses and we will keep an eye on the numbers throughout the winter and I guess if capacity exceeds this expansion… potentially, we’ll have to look at buses as a further expansion but that’s not what’s being considered today,” said Malcom.
In 2022, a point-in-time (PIT) count identifying and surveying individuals in Lethbridge indicated there were 454 people experiencing homelessness in the city.
Of those, 254 were identified as being unsheltered. Malcom expects those numbers to remain consistent in 2023.
MLA for Lethbridge-East, Nathan Neudorf shared in a statement: “These 50 spaces will help some of Lethbridge’s most vulnerable through our coldest months.”
“I’m glad Alberta’s government is also investing in affordable housing and addiction recovery including the recent opening of the Lethbridge Recovery Community as these programs and services are making a better future possible for those currently experiencing homelessness.”
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