Last night, while I was canvassing on Franklin Ave, two women headed into the Centre For Northern Families for a night in the emergency shelter. We’re fortunate to have the dedicated staff at CNF provide this service. Instead of staying short-term, many women live in the shelter for years on end, unable to find suitable permanent housing. There are only six units of housing for single women at Lynn’s Place, and single people don’t usually qualify for Yellowknife Public Housing because families are able to amass more points on their applications to get in.
Just a few doors later, I had a great chat with a young woman, new to Yellowknife. Homeless people knock on her door for food and shelter from time to time. She’s at a loss about what to do for them. She’s heard of Housing First and wants to hear whether it will work in Yellowknife.
Yes it would. Housing First provides housing to people who are homeless, along with staff support to help them stabilize. The goal of communities that have adopted Housing First is to end homelessness .The mayor of Medicine Hat, Alberta, reported last year that half the people who had been living in emergency shelters had been brought out of homelessness in five years, and 72 per cent had succeeded in holding on to their housing.
The Yellowknife Community Advisory Board on housing has money to study the Housing First model. That’s a start but in order to end homelessness people need homes. That’s the sticking point. We need a plan to end homelessness and political will at all levels of government to support and fund the plan. A new group, Yellowknife Homeful, is advocating for this approach and I support them. If I am elected, expect to hear more from me about Housing First.