Red Deer approves 'ambitious' plan to end homelessness in five years
RED DEER -- Nearly 150 people are homeless in Red Deer, but 1,800 others are at risk of joining them.
On Monday, city council approved the Community Housing and Homelessness Integrated Plan (CHHIP) which has a goal of ending homelessness in five years.
"What we would see as the end [of homelessness] would be systems of care in place to receive people as they fall into homelessness and be able to house them essentially immediately. We wouldn't need all of temporary and transitional spaces that we lean on so heavily right now," said City of Red Deer Social Planning Manager Tricia Hercina.
The plan focuses on creating affordable housing opportunities in the city.
"It's the first time we've had to capital housing needs married with support services required for sustainable housing in our community," said Hercine.
The plan has a price tag of $273 million over the next five years, with $246 million needed for capital expenses and $27 million for operating costs. The city says they have already secured the $27 million but will be relying heavily on provincial and federal grants for the rest of the funding.
"I think that some of the budget dollars, some of the proposed budget dollars attached to the plan are aspirational, particularly given the new economic normal," said Mayor Tara Veer.
"We know there will be some funding heading our community’s way and we want to make the most of it when those opportunities present itself," she added.
The money would be used to create 1,300 deep subsidy affordable housing units and 1,000 affordable housing units at 10 per cent below market cost. The rest of the money would be used to create rent subsidies, grants and maintenance supports.
"These goals are what we need to end homelessness in our community in the next five years, as well as address the folks that are at risk of being homeless," said Hercina.
The city is also looking to work with private investors within the community to assure affordable housing is being built.
"I think we'll see some new affordable housing starts but they won't all be dependent on government funding, this plan is different as it relies on partnerships with the private sector, with the faith sector, the not-for-profit sector," said Veer.
"We're already experiencing increased conversations and so we hope those will result in new solutions but the interest has definitely grown and shifted," said Hercina.
The next step of the plan is to create a governance model. Council passed a resolution to have this done by the second quarter of 2020.
The city will be conducting its next Point in Time Homeless Count in the new year.