Funding available to Indigenous organizations

Funding applications for organizations that serve people experiencing homelessness are now open through the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation’s Reaching Home initiative.

Reaching Home is a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness across Canada. It funds urban, Indigenous, rural and remote communities to address local homelessness needs.

Last month, the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation released a call for proposals from Indigenous organizations in the city. Through an agreement with the provincial government, the BNRC has approximately $300,000 available in its Indigenous funding stream to be used between this April and March 31, 2024.

The funding is for projects delivered primarily by Indigenous organizations to address the specific needs of the off-reserve homeless Indigenous population, said Judie Holliday, BNRC’s Reaching Home co-ordinator for the Indigenous stream.

The projects eligible to apply for the funding are diverse, Holliday said.

“People come up with great ideas for ways to help support people who are experiencing homelessness, or to prevent homelessness.”

It’s important the programs that do apply are not duplicates of others that already exist, Holliday added, so they can better fill gaps in supporting the city’s unhoused.

“People that are applying for funding … should show that they’re working with the other organizations,” she said. “We want organizations to be looking for … how can they build on things, or fill a different gap?”

Homelessness in Brandon has been brought to a crisis point by the COVID-19 pandemic, Holliday said.

“People lost housing that they had before, just because people were more reluctant to have someone living with them or sleeping on their couch.”

There’s also no sign that homelessness is slowing down in the Wheat City.

“Shelters have been overwhelmed over the winter,” Holliday said.

Stephanie Lockerby, who works with the Westman region of the Community Health and Housing Association, said the organization is currently considering all funding options at this point in time.

“We’re just discussing how to proceed,” Lockerby said.

The CHHA, which provides mental health education materials, advocacy and referral services for the general public, has previously applied for funding from the Reaching Home Indigenous stream, but didn’t have much luck.

The Samaritan House Safe and Warm Shelter in Brandon has decided not to apply for the funding because it’s not an Indigenous-run organization, executive director Barbara McNish said.

“I think there are other agencies that may be able to apply for that, and we support those initiatives. We are an emergency shelter, and there are other needs … for wrap-around services for supportive housing.”

The Brandon Friendship Centre will not apply either because it was awarded funding last year, said housing and finance executive assistant Jeremy Monias.

The deadline for proposals is March 13 at 4:30 p.m. All funds must be spent in full by March 31, 2024. The current fiscal year is the last one the program will be running.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun