Union donation helps Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition expand homelessness project

Local Y010 of the Yukon Employees’ Union is supporting an anti-poverty initiative to expand beyond Whitehorse.

$7,000 will go toward assessing needs of homeless people in Yukon communities

Mark Loewenberger, left, Union Local Y010 president, presents a $7,000 cheque to Kristina Craig, executive director of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. Both say it's valuable for the union local to be involved with social projects because it makes those projects collaborative community initiatives. (Meagan Deuling/CBC)

Local Y010 of the Yukon Employees' Union last week donated $7,000 to the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

Local president Mark Loewenberger says that after a budget re-evaluation, they realized they had a spare $17,000.

"Members get to say where that money goes, and this year the members wanted it to go toward social projects," Loewenberger said.

The membership decided to donate $7,000 to the anti-poverty group to help it extend an ongoing Whitehorse project to the rest of the territory.

The project, supported by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, involves developing a "by-name priority list." Yukon's department of Health and Social Services is also contributing funds.

In compiling the list, the coalition asks homeless people if they want to be included. If they agree, they are assessed, and the most socially vulnerable are placed at the top of the list.

'Fantastic project'

According to a research paper supported by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness — The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016 — the idea behind the project is to better identify and track the long-term or chronically homeless, so as to better direct resources to those with complex needs.

"It's a fantastic project," says Loewenberger.

For Kristina Craig, executive director of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, it's a way to prioritize the needs of homeless people, to find out people's names and what they need, and to match them with resources in the community. 

Craig says it also gets non-profit organizations and government employees to work together to address challenges faced by people who don't have a home.

"One of the reasons it's a such great tool is you really are able to identify what the gaps are in our communities," Craig said.

The union local also signed a memorandum of understanding with the anti-poverty coalition that states the coalition will take guidance from elders and youth while the list is being created.

Union local members are still deciding how to invest the remaining $10,000, Loewenberger said.