Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN-S) announced Friday it is stepping in to provide funding to The Lighthouse Serving the Battlefords emergency shelter to keep it open during the pandemic. The announcement comes a week after The Lighthouse Supported Living out of Saskatoon had to give notice to 22 staff members in North Battleford due to funding drying up.
MN-S Housing Minister Ryan Carriere, said, “The homeless are the most susceptible when it comes to COVID-19 and with no other apparent homeless shelters in the Battleford region, MN–S will take up the challenge and fund the 37-bed facility. Discussions are also underway to determine a path toward more substantial, community funding partners that could see a shelter operate indefinitely.”
“MN-S recognizes the need for housing often becomes entangled in bureaucracy at the expense of those most at risk. MN–S sees the urgent need for these citizens within the Battleford region and will utilize emergency COVID money to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks, especially at a time like this.” said MN–S Housing Director Christena Konrad.
While the funding to North Battleford Lighthouse supported living emergency shelter will ensure that homeless populations have a shelter they can access, MN-S has also entered into broader discussions with the Battlefords Agency Tribal Council (BATC) to look at ways to address homelessness. These discussions focus on establishing strong and sustainable partnerships within the community to create holistic homelessness responses and supports to serve the Battlefords region stated Friday’s release.
Last Friday, Don Windels, executive director of the Lighthouse Supported Living for the last 18 years, said a change is needed in the way homeless shelters are funded after announcing The Lighthouse Serving the Battlefords emergency shelter program is expected to close as of April 1 due to lack of funding.
There needs to be core government funding made available so organizations such as The Lighthouse can “spend their time helping the homeless, instead of chasing money,” Windels told the News-Optimist in a telephone interview.
An average of 20 to 24 individuals have been making use of the centre each night, said Windels.
The shelter in North Battleford first opened its doors in 2015.