By Jensen, Randy on November 4, 2020.
City council approved $3.9 million in funding allocations to 18 community organizations to support community services, social well-being and inclusion in Lethbridge.
The allocations leveraged funds from Family Community Support Services, Outreach Support Services and the federal government’s Reaching Home program, and were delivered within Round 2 of the Community Well-Being and Safety Strategy envelope, which in Round 1 distributed about $6 million in federal, provincial and municipal funding for supportive housing in Lethbridge in early October.
“The first round really focused primarily around homelessness, and homelessness-related dollars,” explained Martin Thomsen, City of Lethbridge manager of Community Social Development. “This pot came from more intervention or prevention dollars. Although there were again some emergency homelessness dollars sprinkled in, because we did get another allotment from the federal government here literally a couple weeks ago. The bulk of these (grants) were what is called Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) dollars, and they are meant for intervention or prevention.”
While the funding was much needed and allocated grants to a number of local community service providers, Thomsen acknowledged when calls went out for applications from the community there were about $76 million in asks which came back.
“When you put out dollars to the community that are available, you are going to get applications from a very wide spectrum of groups,” he explained. “Unfortunately, a lot of those applications simply did not qualify because the funds we have are restricted for use. That is where, as part of the Well-Being and Safety Strategy, we firmly believe in co-ordinating and integrating funds from other resources so what we can’t fund hopefully we can get other groups to fund. Because we have done the research, we have the data and we have the system in place, and it’s now a matter of taking that knowledge and research and plugging the holes with other funding sources.”
Thomsen said that is why the City continues to encourage integrations of programs in different organizations who offer similar services in the community, so the available and potential funds can be maximized in their effect.
One program which was defunded through this year’s FCSS application process was the Clean Sweep Program, which has had great success in helping to manage drug debris in the downtown core. Thomsen said the Ministry of Community and Social Services had re-flagged the program, and informed the City of Lethbridge the program was not actually eligible for FCSS funding.
However, recognizing the importance of the program, Thomsen informed council another funding envelope had been identified through existing municipal allocations so the program could continue to operate.
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