Town gets housing grant

Several locals will be able to rest assured that they have housing thanks to a grant from the Rural Development Network.

Hans Van Klaveren, the General Manager of Community Services and Recreation, told council on April 3 the RDN received an anonymous donation of $425,000 from an organization in Edmonton, and Drayton Valley was being awarded with $20,000 from that donation to go toward temporary housing in the community.

The idea behind the funds is that the Housing First Model is one way to help individuals become self-sustaining. The Canadian Government says the Housing First Model is “a proven approach to tackling homelessness, including chronic homelessness.”

Lola Strand, the Community Services Manager, says Drayton received the grant due to their success with the Shelter Pod program and the continued efforts of the community to alleviate homelessness.

“We have shown that we have the capacity to be creative and help people in a concrete way,” says Strand in an email interview.

Van Klaveren says the plan for the funds is to provide one month of temporary residence to several individuals in the community that are lacking housing security and will serve as the pilot of this program. The number of people they can help will depend on the costs of the residences, however, they believe they will be able to help at least 10 individuals.

“The intent of this program is to help with the first step of long-term plans for those clients,” says Van Klaveren.

Strand says the program is building a resume for the Housing First initiative. She says Family and Community Support Services is putting people experiencing homelessness into independent housing and providing additional support thereafter. The RDN will be able to collect data on the number of individuals who remain housed after receiving the help to see how viable Housing First is.

The funds must be spent between April 1 and 30, and can only cover certain expenses such as motel accommodations, damage deposits, first month’s rent, and rental arrears. After the month is over, the individuals will be expected to cover their own costs if they continue to live in the space.

Strand says those in the program will have their own rental agreements with property managers. Those who do choose to take advantage of the funding opportunity will have to remain open to working with the FCSS to help them overcome the challenges that caused them to become homeless in the first place.

He says the Town has been working with Warming Hearts, Opportunity Home and Humans Helping Humans to find individuals who are in need of housing. Anyone who gets to participate in the program will be pre-screened before they are placed in a home.

“The criteria that we have been given by the RDN is very specific to supporting individuals who are currently unsheltered,” says Strand. “Therefore, we worked with a committee of representatives from local homeless serving organizations … to determine who, with this additional support, would be most able to remain housed.”

Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Drayton Valley and District Free Press