By Lethbridge Herald on February 25, 2020.
City council voted unanimously to give Streets Alive Mission a $425,000 grant to help renovate their newest women’s transitional housing facility in Scenic Heights.
The transitional housing facility in question was hotly contested by local neighbourhood opponents last September when a majority of councillors voted to rezone the house to allow for the operation of such a facility in the area.
At the time, the vote was 5-2 in favour of rezoning. On Monday the vote was 9-0 in support of renovation funding for the facility.
The money will be paid out of provincial grants through the Municipal Block Fund set aside in Lethbridge for the purpose of transitional housing. The money was earmarked for that purpose and could not be spent on anything else, said Coun. Belinda Crowson, who sponsored the motion to provide the funding to the Streets Alive Mission. She could think of no worthier recipient than Streets Alive, she told reporters after the vote, which already runs other successful and well-integrated transitional housing facilities in Lethbridge.
“We know there is a lot of areas we need to work on,” said Crowson. “Housing is something which is such a vital part of dealing with addictions and vulnerable people. Once you have a house, you have stability, you have support, and you can start looking for employment. You can start working on recovery.”
“We can’t say recovery and treatment are important, and then when something comes forward not actually support it,” she added. “That’s what you saw from council — the recognition that we need to create places for recovery, for treatment, for the residents of Lethbridge. And this is absolutely part of that. And that’s why there was unanimous support; this is essential for our community.”
Councillors Ryan Parker and Blaine Hyggen, who voted against the original rezoning motion back in September, said it was time to move on from past disagreements and work with what we have today to make recovery easier for vulnerable people, especially women in this case, in Lethbridge.
“I understand of course what this home is going to do for those in recovery, and it is extremely important,” stated Hyggen. “And I am more excited that we have an organization like Streets Alive that will be operating this facility. I know it will be kept up to the best appearance and programming they have within.”
Streets Alive Mission co-founder Julie Kissick thanked all councillors for their support, confessing she couldn’t contain her excitement when she found out the vote was unanimous.
“It was a contentious approval process so I did a pretty big happy dance in my office,” stated Kissick. “I think we found out through a tweet that it was approved unanimously, and it was immediately gratifying to me that the City sees the value in supportive housing for women.”
Kissick expected the new transitional facility to be up and ready to receive as many as 20 new residents, all of whom are at different stages of treatment and recovery, in four to six months once the renovations are complete.
“We have to help people who want to get better,” she said. “Recovery is not a dirty word. We need to do something to try to get rid of the discrimination against people in recovery, and women in recovery.”
The Municipal Block Fund grant from the City will pay for half the estimated cost of the renovations, said Kissick.
To donate to Streets Alive Mission to support this new facility, and the mission’s other ongoing work, visit streetsalive.ca for more details.
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