The Saskatchewan government has provided money for a shelter for homeless people in Saskatoon to operate for the next year.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Social Services announced its plan to give $3.5 million to the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) for its Emergency Wellness Centre in Saskatoon. The shelter has been running in the city's downtown since December and provides food, laundry and counselling services to 75 people.
"We've got to get people housed," said STC Chief Mark Arcand.
"We've got to get people those addiction services that they need. And the minister, I want to thank her for acknowledging the holistic approach as an Indigenous organization that's really making a difference in people's lives."
At the announcement, the ministry also announced a partnership with Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services (RT/SIS) on a new low-barrier supportive housing project. The eight-bed building will be provided by the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation and RT/SIS will provide 24/7 supportive housing services, including meals and connection to services.
The province will be giving $1.2 million to the one-year pilot project.
"Affordable and stable housing is only one of the services and supports individuals need as they transition away from chronic homelessness," said Social Services Minister Lori Carr said.
"This pilot represents an integrated approach between the province, RT/SIS, City of Regina and community-based service providers to provide on-site support, connection to wrap-around services, and when appropriate, facilitate transitions to other housing options."
In Saskatoon, Chief Arcand said the STC wellness centre continues to be full, despite finding stable housing for many individuals and families.
Last month, Saskatoon city council voted to extend the wellness centre's lease until June 15. It's also working on bringing in a full one-year extension for the centre, which will require changing the city's zoning bylaw.
Arcand said STC is continuing to work to find a suitable permanent space for the wellness centre, which is currently in an unused City of Saskatoon office building. He said it has been difficult to find a suitable space.
"Everybody has to understand we don't have a turnkey operation," he said.
"We need a commercial kitchen, we need showers, we need a laundry services. We need green spaces. We don't have that."
While the government has only provided funding for a year, Arcand hopes the relationship will continue.
"We've proven ourselves in four and a half months," he said.
"We've put our heart in building a relationship with the province."
City meetings on extending the wellness centre's lease are expected to take place over the next several months.