By Tim Kalinowski on December 4, 2020.
Calgary-based The Mustard Seed will be opening a new 45-bed sober shelter service in Lethbridge starting this month, and is looking to open a permanent supportive-housing facility in the community sometime in 2021. The new shelter will be open 24/7 to serve the needs of the local homeless community.
“We are working with the community at large to secure two locations,” confirms Mustard Seed managing director Byron Bradley. “One would be for permanent supportive housing, and we are hoping that will open in 2021. That location is not 100 per cent confirmed at this point. And the second thing we are doing is we are hoping to open a sobering shelter as early as this month.
“So we have begun recruitment in town, and we are trying to secure a location. We had hoped it would have been done by now, but it has not yet been confirmed. We are working very hard with the community at trying to find a location that would work well.”
The sober shelter will do as its name suggests, Bradley says, and offer temporary shelter to those among the homeless population who are either not using drugs or currently in recovery. The idea, says Bradley, is these individuals, when they are ready, will eventually be transitioned into the Mustard Seed’s other permanent supportive housing facility when it is ready in 2021 and beyond.
“Being a mat on a floor doesn’t provide a person with a lot of hope,” he explains. “As we know, a shelter is not a home. It should just be a temporary place for a person. Our vision is to eliminate homelessness and reduce poverty where we serve, and so we want to try to get as many people off the street into a supportive-housing environment where they can feel they are part of the community again if they do not currently feel that way.”
The Mustard Seed, which has 36 years of service under its belt and operates in six cities, works closely with its compatriot Alpha House in Calgary, confirms Bradley. The sober shelter will provide additional capacity over and above what the current homeless shelter in Lethbridge offers, he says, and offer more options for those who wish to remain sober, or who do not use drugs or other intoxicating substances in the first place.
“It is very important to have both ends of the continuum covered; so if a person is actively using substances they have a safe and supportive place to go like Alpha House,” Bradley explains. “But also if they are looking for a place where they can be when they are sober, and they don’t want to be around folks that are using substances, they also have another, separate, distinct place to stay.”
For more information on the Mustard Seed visit theseed.ca.
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