Yellowknife’s community advisory board on homelessness now has nine new members to help make decisions when it comes to how to spend city funding related to homelessness.
At a special meeting of council on Monday, city councillors unanimously passed a motion to appoint the new members to the board.
The new members consist of Michael Fatt, Emily Esau, Roxanne Cook, Neesha Rao, Deanna Cornfield, Cpl Mireille Chantelois from the RCMP, Robert Warburton, Tammy Roberts and Charles Wyman.
They join the previous group of a handful of members that already sit on the board, including the mayor Rebecca Alty and city councillor Stacie Smith, the chair of the board.
The board provides recommendations to Yellowknife’s city council on how to spend funds related to homelessness initiatives and provides insight into different priorities needed for the population.
“Through collaborative sharing, innovative strategies and effective problem solving, members from relevant sectors of the community will gather to develop, establish and implement, with collective wisdom, a community-based approach to meet existing and emerging homelessness needs in Yellowknife,” the board’s terms of reference state.
The board consists of nine to 15 members. Some participants are designated as "non-voting advisory members" who offer input and clarity but do not play a role in voting on recommendations to bring to council.
Each board member sits on the board for a two-year term. There are members who have knowledge about the needs of seniors, youth, veterans, people with disabilities, businesses, women and families fleeing violence, Indigenous people, the public at large, landlords and the non-government housing sector, and a non-government health organizations.
Two of the newly filled positions on the board are individuals who have lived experience with homelessness.
The non-voting members that sit in on meetings are from the RCMP and various territorial government departments including the health and social services authority, department of justice, department of education, culture and employment, and department responsible for homelessness.
The board’s terms of reference were updated on January 25 to allow for a larger group of people with diverse knowledge to sit on the board.
In February, city council decided how to spend $1.7 million in federal funding from the Reaching Home initiative to address homelessness.
Some of that funding will go to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to provide on-the-land programming, while other portions went to provide wage top-ups for groups that provide relevant services, covering people’s rental arrears, leasing YWCA units, and expanding the Somba K’e Park washrooms’ opening hours.
Other funded initiatives include a YWCA food program, payments for cleaning supplies, homelessness prevention and diversion programs, Indigenous case management, and support for the Housing First program run by the Yellowknife Women’s Society.
Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio