June 16th, 2024

SPC recommending council give federal funding for Streets Alive outreach program


By Lethbridge Herald on February 17, 2023.

The Cultural and Standing Policy Committee Thursday passed a motion reccomending council approve federal funding for Streets Alive outreach programming. Herald file photo

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

A request that city council approve up to $215,460 of Reaching Home federal funding for the  Streets Alive Mission to operate outreach programming brought a strong response from a member of city council at Thursday’s Cultural and Standing Policy Committee.

John Middleton-Hope, who is not a member of the SPC but was present at the meeting,  questioned the capability of Streets Alive to conduct such programming in light of how it handled the warming centre for which it also received funding in December.

In a 2-1 vote, the SPC voted in favour of a motion recommending council approve up to $215,460 per year of Reaching Home funding for 2023-26.

Voting in favour were committee chair Mark Campbell and councillor Jeff Carlson while councillor Nick Paladino was opposed. Acting mayor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel left the meeting before the item came up on the agenda.

Council in full will address the motion on March 7.

Paladino said he couldn’t support the motion because “this is a lot of money we’re talking about. There’s too many questions, too many objections.”

The request for funding came from the Community Wellbeing and Safety Strategy Advisory committee.

A report to the SPC says “there has been a significant rise in encampments in our community in recent years, underscoring the urgency for comprehensive housing supports in Lethbridge including outreach services. Outreach programs aid the state of the community by serving as the first point-of-contact for vulnerable community members, especially those residing in encampments, that require access to the continuum of care.”

On Nov. 29, council adopted its budget which included funding for Lethbridge outreach programs. Funding of $153,460 was approved for this service in 2023 with $260,000 approved for years 2024-26.

“This recommendation to approve the CWSS federal grant funding allocation, in tandem with the approved municipal funding, would enable CSD (Community Social Development) to provide the required resources for outreach programming,” says the report.

Streets Alive was the only agency that submitted an application to operate the service after a Request for Quote was issued in December. Administration has determined its application met the operational requirements and after negotiations, Streets Alive was informed of its selection as the successful proponent.

Middleton-Hope made clear he felt Streets Alive is ill-equipped to do the job.

“I don’t see in any of the documentation here the skill sets that would be required by Streets Alive and/or any other organization to effectively transition and manage a project of this nature. No expertise, no experience,” he said.

The councillor said “I think the warming centre was an example of their ability to manage a project and they came back and indicated they could not handle the project within about a week of taking it on. That’s problematic.”

He added “if the committee does not see fit to kill this motion on the vine, I would recommend that a delay of funding until March 16 SPC is in order. Until we get more information on how Streets Alive will deliver these services. I’m not satisfied that there is proof they have the expertise, the experience, or the resources”  to complete the KPIs (key performance indicators) of this project. In addition, we’ve seen some significant challenges, both to the process as well as to the successful bidder and I think that would provide us with an opportunity and then to provide credible demonstration that they are capable of handling a project of this size and scope.

Carlson said he supported the motion to get it in front of council as it’s something council needs to fully discuss.

“The committee isn’t approving this, it’s just putting it in front of council. My concern is if we don’t get it in front of council, we may not have a good fulsome discussion of what the intention actually is,” he said.

“There seems to be a lot of confusion around what exactly is contemplated here. We had some discussion around what outreach services are as opposed to encampment cleanups and enforcements et cetera and I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding of what this is to be. This is one tool, a necessary tool in my opinion, to go out to where people are, not to bring them in to a building as was done with the comfort centre, per se. . .this is for folks to go out and do outreach” at encampments which he predicts will again be set up as the weather warms.

Carlson said encampments will grow and spread unless services can reach the people in them to get them to seek better options and to access the continuum of care to “find better ways to experience life in our community.”

Two lawyers and owners of the building next to Streets Alive expressed their concerns about Streets Alive operating the programming giving their personal experience with the warming shelter.

One expressed frustration with council, saying every time something comes up that’s controversial, they go in camera and wondered what was spoken behind closed doors during the 20 minutes the SPC was recessed.

He said public patience and perception is running thin with the lack of co-ordinated efforts by the City and organizations trying to help the homeless.

He said efforts seem like last-minute band-aid solutions, adding the frustration isn’t with any individuals or specific agency but rather the lack of a co-ordinated response.

He said his company witnessed first hand “mismanagement of the warming centre” at Streets Alive.

Another business owner said on Jan. 6, a day after the warming shelter closed, there was relief downtown. He said the new owners of the homeless shelter have done more in four weeks than he’s seen in the four years he’s operated a business in Lethbridge.

“Talking about an outreach or funding more money to another organization just doesn’t make sense. You’re not even giving these people an opportunity to do what they do and they offer outreach at a professional level,” he said.

The business owner added he read every piece of material for the SPC meeting but the RFQ had no information, data or plan. 

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Citi Zen

When are you ever going to learn…. these people don’t want your help. They don’t want to be saved. They don’t want a house to live in. They just want to carry on as they are, free to shoot up with no interference from us. Quit throwing our tax money at them!!

johnny57

From what I understand they all got a tidy sum of 3000.00 per head from what they called “Distribution.”
One wonders why this amount was not conditional in some way to providing them a path to follow to help them get off the streets? This money most likely to some (not all of course) will make their addiction problems worse!
Good-old Liberal ideology at work here I figure, when in doubt throw money at it! If that does not work then get a bigger shovel to fling even more money at the problem.

pursuit diver

I usually agree with much of what Councillor John Middleton-Hope has to say, but in this case I disagree.
Streets Alive has been dealing with the homeless for 40 years at least and operated the shelter when it was on 1st avenue and about 4 th street, where ReMax is now. They have multiple programs dealing with a variety of related issues from the addicted/homeless to people transitioning out of jail.
Would you rather bring in an outside source from another city who disrespects our residents and businesses?
You cannot blame Streets Alive for what happened with the warming center! Many of those people were the same who hung out all night at the bus terminal building (park and ride) and destroyed property around it and even broke into and destroyed it.
Streets Alive was asked by the city to provide a warming center and they responded as yes, but stated they had room for about 60 people. Over 100 came! This reflects not on Streets Alive, but on the city for not dealing with this matter properly in the first place.
The city and city police dropped the ball in the dealing of these issues and need to take responsibility for the issues.
It took the Bow On Tong burning down, luckily with no loss of life and public outcry, before police started acting in dealing with the criminals that hang out all night on the streets with people calling them ‘most vulberable’.
They are out there to commit crimes and since they cannot stay in a shelter and commit the crimes, they encamp or just hang out all night as they do this.
They are the ones prostituting themselves, selling drugs, pimping, break and entering, damaging property, writing graffiti, threatening people and starting fires in building doorways to warm up or cook their drugs to inject.
They are criminals and aggressive and this aggression grew when there were no deterrents to their criminal activities because of a broken judicial and penal system that caused police to stop charging them because they were just back on the street in a hour.
The issue isn’t Streets Alive! They can do the job and no one else can! Sage Clan has proven to be anti-social against us ‘colonialists’ / ‘whiteman’ as one of their leadership stated in comments to the Herald and should be defunded and removed from our streets.
The issue is allowing these people out all night committing crimes! That is the issue! End that and there will be no need for warming centers!
If I or anyone in my family did what they did at night, we would be in jail!
Stop coddling these people and enforce the law!

ewingbt

Why are these people allowed to hang out all night on the streets in the first place? That is the real issue! Any of the truely homeless took the offers given for sheltering and housing.
These are a band of rebels that are great at manipulating Johnny Q. Public into feeling sorry for them for their own gains. They are out every night committing criminal acts . . . period!
The numbers have decreased downtown not because warming centers or the cold but because of an increased police presence overnight in the last couple of weeks . . . a noticeable increased presence with actions being taken by police.
There are not the numbers we saw in November when Streets Alive Mission was overwhelmed with almost double the amount of people they had room for.
Loitering/vagrancy/encampments are all being looked at across North America and in many states and some Canadian cities they are using involuntary treatment for addicts and those with mental heath issues, taking them off the streets while enforcing loitering and encampment laws.
Everyone is tired of it all and tired of the increases in taxes to pay for it all!
We are going to be beginning protests in the spring and soon we will be having an open meeting to invite those interested to join.
This is our city and we want it back! This is not Calgary or Edmonton, where a large number of people who worked in the oil patch were laid off and became addicts or military vets who suffered from PTSD and got addicted while trying to self medicate . . . we don’t have those high numbers.
Most are indigenous because we live next to the biggest reserve in Canada and in close proximity to 3 others, one being in the US . . . and yes we see issues from the people for the US indigenous on our streets.
We have a right to say what happens in our city and it is time this gong-show ends!
I know City Council has being working on solutions but the one we know works is start enforcing the laws! That is a police issue! If laws need to be changed then Council should be advocating for this city and working with the provincial and federal governments to get laws changed. That is not going ‘out of your lane’ but is very much in your lane to be an advocate!
We are all tired and there will be no need for all these non-profits that came into our city for their own gains to be on our streets.
Streets Alive Mission is involved in many other related areas and are local!
We should be supporting them! I have supported them for sometime and know they do a lot of great work with better longterm results than many other non-profits.

snowman

we are wondering why Streets Alive should go to their sponsor Victory Church to set up facilities there for the so called street bunch of drugees. Sreets alive was kicked out of the 1st ave site , then to old cpr hotel on 1st ave S which should have been declared unfit and demolished years ago. The two councilors that voted for spending is typical, they should take a walk and shake their brain are they doing a proper service to taxpayers, to Councilors John Middleton Hope and Nick Paladino the taxpayer view you are right. Take a good look at the Indigenous hotel i ave north 75 % were indigenous no doubt now 100% since Blood tribe take over. So Who paid the operating cost no doubt City taxpayers. Kick the problem out of town like they did when natives were allowed to drink, walking back to the reserve,kicked out of town

pursuit diver

So are you aware there is no Victory Church? Are you aware that Streets Alive is a separate entity? I wonder if it is that you are angry at God so this is why you are anti-Christian. Are you aware that the most successful treatment programs are Chirstian faith based?
The original Streets Alive shelter was moved to the northside current location and there was an change made at that time. The current council thought that would be an end to all the drunken indigenous hanging out in the downtown core and their public urination, defecation and open sexual acts.
It failed and the issues have only got worse, because the new shelter had more capacity and the numbers grew and they all ended up downtown doing what they do! That was decades ago!
What we have is not the Streets Alive fault but the failure from the leadership of this city to deal with the matter! That is the issues!
Time to grow a pair and clean up this mess! Stop blaming those trying to help and focus on the issue!!!!