Lighthouse emergency shelter in North Battleford to close because of lack of funding

·2 min read
The way Saskatchewan funds shelters needs to change and Saskatchewan should core fund shelters, Don Windels said. (Don Somers/CBC - image credit)
The way Saskatchewan funds shelters needs to change and Saskatchewan should core fund shelters, Don Windels said. (Don Somers/CBC - image credit)

The Lighthouse Supported Living announced Friday that the North Battleford location will close, effective April 1.

The organization cited "substantial funding changes" as the reason for the closure.

A partnership with Provincial Métis Housing Corporation (PMHC) fell through, leaving the emergency shelter with not enough money to operate.

PMHC provided about half a million in funding last year, according to The Lighthouse's executive director, Don Windels.

The overall budget to run the facility is between $750,000 and $800,000 a year.

The organization "will continue to explore emergency shelter funding sources and partnerships. Transitional and supported housing programs will continue to operate without disruption," a release from The Lighthouse said.

Opposition leader Ryan Meili said he was disappointed to hear that the emergency shelter was closing, and that this is an opportunity for the government to step up and help.

"It's pretty clear that [the provincial government] could be offering more funding. This is an area that they've been very reluctant to enter into in any serious way in terms of supporting housing for the most vulnerable," Meili said Friday.

CBC has reached out to the provincial government, but no one was immediately available for comment.

Windels said the majority of the staff is going to be let go as a result of the loss.

"There's concern both for the staff obviously because they're losing their jobs but also the tenants because people who do find themselves, for whatever reason, homeless in North Battleford are going to have a harder time now finding a place," he said.

There were people in a certain part of the building who had been there longer term, but the organization will have to evict them now, too.

"We will assist them. We will definitely do whatever we can to find them housing."

Don Windels, executive director of The Lighthouse, said it was a hard day to let go the staff at the shelter.
Don Windels, executive director of The Lighthouse, said it was a hard day to let go the staff at the shelter.

It's possible the closure of the 37-bed shelter will affect RCMP too. Windels said RCMP would sometimes bring folks who were intoxicated to the shelter to stay the night. Now, RCMP will likely just have to take them in.

Windels said they've reached out to the province and the federal government for help, but said it was a dead end. They both said their policies don't allow them to fund the shelter the way it needs to be funded. There are a couple more irons in the fire, but nothing concrete yet, Windels said.

The way Saskatchewan funds shelters needs to change and Saskatchewan should core fund shelters, Windels said.

"That way, we don't have to spend our time running after money, we can actually spend our time serving individuals that need the help," he said.