Saskatoon Indigenous homelessness initiatives receive federal boost

The fight against homelessness in Saskatoon received an injection of funding Wednesday afternoon.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars pledged to three initiatives in the city

Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas says the funding will help keep people off the streets, and allow them to access services to treat the root causes of homelessness. (CBC News)

The fight against homelessness in Saskatoon received an injection of funding Wednesday afternoon.

Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) and the Community Advisory Board on Saskatoon Homelessness (CAB-SH) announced hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds through Canada's Homeless Partnering Strategy program.

Saskatoon Tribal Council's Urban First Nation Services received $143,000 for the purchase of a transitional home for Indigenous children. The group's capacity for housing will rise from 13 to 15 beds, for children who might otherwise be put into foster care.

The Tribal Council's Cress Housing Corporation will also receive funds to augment its capacity — $686,000 over two years, to go toward the purchase of three duplexes or six apartments.

"We have low-rental homes, but those are usually for students and the working poor. We've never had the situation where we have homeless families, and they take extra efforts in terms of some of the supports they need," said Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas.

"A lot of these people who are homeless, they come from the North, First Nation reserves, and they have no supports at all. So now we have places we can house them and do the follow up."

White Buffalo Lodge will also receive $16,000 toward client costs, and $34,000 to build a new meeting room, which will serve families in need.

Mayor looks to province for commitment

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark is asking the province to step up and make a commitment to the city's Housing First strategy. (CBC News)
As Saskatoon's Housing First strategy gains steam, Mayor Charlie Clark told reporters he'd like to see more commitment from the provincial government on the file.

"The province is responsible for the ministries of social service, health, justice, and housing," he said.

"We haven't seen a clear commitment from the province to say, 'Yes, a housing-first approach is something we're going to be at the table for.'"

The province, according to Clark, is integral to making progress on the city's homelessness file.

His hope is that the shakeup in Saskatchewan Party leadership and the provincial cabinet may allow for further work to be done.

"We're all in this together. Let's co-ordinate our efforts. That's what's going to make it easier," said Clark.