By Dale Woodard on May 4, 2021.
Progress is being made on supportive housing around the city to help the vulnerable take steps toward a better life.
On hand as the guest speaker at the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce’s Constituency Connections Zoom session Friday morning, Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf tackled a number of topics.
Among those was how to collaborate with the provincial and municipal governments to invest in a Yes In My Backyard strategy to change public attitudes against new housing developments.
“It’s challenging because of preconceived conceptions and possibly some misconceptions on what these housing developments can look like,” said Neudorf. “We have work to do. But we’ve got the start on a 42-bed affordable housing unit on the north side of Lethbridge that I’m really hoping will break ground this summer and get going. That’s to continue to care for those who are caught in addiction or those who need the most support because it really gets them off the street and out of lanes and alleyways. It gives them much more structured living.”
Neudorf also noted a large number of beds have been added in southern Alberta to get those who are suffering from addiction into treatment and recovery.
“Some of those agencies who do that work have seen north of 75 or 80 per cent recovery,” he said. “Particularly, if those individuals are young and we catch them early enough that we can get them into a different lifestyle. But I think we’re all realistic to know there is 20 or 25 per cent that won’t be able to change and they’re stuck in that lifestyle.
“I’m really happy to work with (Lethbridge Housing Authority CAO) Robin James and her initiative to get a 64-bed supportive housing unit on the south side that is more seniors and low income. It allows them some flexibility on where they put their clientele around the city. They do a really great job of managing that really well and maintaining those properties.”
Between the north side and south side facilities, that’s over 100 beds, said Neudorf.
“I think our homeless population is something around 250 or 280 depending on the time of year and different seasonal fluctuations. So we’re about halfway there. If you add in the fact we’ve added well over 200 treatment beds, we think that’s going to be helpful to address some of those.”
Neudorf said there isÂ still more work to do to take some existing places and maximize them.
He also pointed to local groups who are working with the provincial and federal government on Indigenous housing.Â
“We’ve seen some really great things where they can get them into a starter home and get them into a job lifestyle and those healthy habits, their success rate to graduate to independent living and their own houses is through the roof. It’s great,” said Neudorf.Â “Those are at least three or four different initiatives at different stages along that pathway for those individuals to get them on their feet. I think we’ve really transitioned well to not just focusing on one spot or one aspect of a person’s life where they’re caught in something like that, but at a number of different points to catch them and get them on a path where they’re living the life they want and they’re a contributing factor in society.”
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