PEI

Street navigator back to help Charlottetown panhandlers

Tami MacIntyre has been on the streets of Charlottetown this summer, talking to the homeless and the panhandlers there, helping to get them off the streets, or at least make their lives there a little easier.

Downtown Charlottetown Inc. hopes program won't run out of funding again

Tami MacIntyre is the perfect person for the job, says Dawn Alan. (Downtown Charlottetown Inc.)

Tami MacIntyre has been on the streets of Charlottetown this summer, talking to the homeless and the panhandlers there, helping to get them off the streets, or at least make their lives there a little easier.

MacIntyre is the street navigator for Downtown Charlottetown Inc. DCI launched the program in 2016, but ran out of funding in August 2017. The City of Charlottetown stepped up with new funding in this year's budget, and MacIntyre started work in June.

Dawn Alan, executive director of Downtown Charlottetown Inc., said the program is making a significant impact in large and small ways.

"We had some success, for sure. We found some housing for people and we were able to get people resumés and find them some employment," said Alan.

"Even little things, like you don't realize, people who don't have health cards or they don't have government ID and they don't know how to get it."

'A huge learning curve'

Alan said the first months operating the program in 2016 and 2017 were a challenge.

"It was a huge learning curve for us," she said.

"P.E.I. has a huge helping tree and all kinds of services and supports for people in need, [but] unless you know how to navigate the system, know how to resource those services or contact the people that you need, it's really difficult. To be fair, we didn't even know who our contacts should be."

Those first months were spent working out those details. MacIntyre, with a background in nursing and residential property management, comes into the job with access to the tools needed to help the people she meets. And that's important when the number one job for the street navigator is building trust.

MacIntyre is in regular contact with about a dozen people on the street.

Helping with gift cards

Alan said MacIntyre is the perfect person for the job, with a combination of professionalism, motherly care, patience, and tough love.

The city funding, $10,000, is for one year. There is also support from Skills PEI, about $11,000, and DCI covers the remainder of the $35,000 cost. Alan hopes the funding will be renewed and the work can continue full-time and year-round.

DCI said people can help the street navigator program with donations of gift cards for coffee, lunch, groceries, pharmacies, and haircuts.

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