Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)

Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

A recent influx of federal funding has made a variety of initiatives for fighting homelessness possible.

$1.6 million administered by Reaching Home Yukon is going out to fund organizations and projects to house and support those in need. The program’s overall goal is the elimination of chronic and Indigenous homelessness as well as preventing returns to homelessness.

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition has been administering and providing space for the Reaching Home Program for the Yukon.

Chantal Frances, one of three Reaching Home program officers administering the funds, said they are particularly excited about the program funding the purchase of five mobile homes; three will be set up in collaboration with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and the other two will be purchased in partnership with the Ross River Dena Council.

Meaningful help

Frances said the homes are supported housing units which come with access to services to assist the families living there. She said the building of the supported housing in smaller communities such as Haines Junction and Ross River is important because those areas are lacking support services when compared to Whitehorse.

“We’re excited because it means actual housing for people creating a long term difference for them and for the community,” Frances said.

“The community will change because these families have a stable basis to continue on with their lives.”

Another recipient of money from the $1.6-million investment is the Safe at Home Society who are putting it to work keeping their 100 Homes campaign up and running for another quarter. The campaign works with landlords who are willing to assist those experiencing homelessness.

Frances said the relatively new program has found housing for 14 people in recent months, six of them children.

Money from Reaching Home is also going toward paying the salary of a housing stability worker for Safe at Home to assist people experiencing homelessness in their search for a stable home.

Other work coming about thanks to the funding includes Pride Yukon — Pride at Home’s hiring of community engagement staff to provide a variety of services in Whitehorse, Watson Lake and Dawson City.

Yukon University is assisting students with their search for housing and providing housing start-up kits.

Also funded are Skookum Jim Friendship Centre’s efforts to provide emergency housing to youth as well as adapt their regular service to the pandemic and Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre’s assistance with housing, meals and COVID-19 cleaning equipment.

More money coming

The work to meet housing needs in the Yukon has met with approval from Federal Government representatives.

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Our Government will continue to work with our partners to fight for our most vulnerable in Yukon through Reaching Home and ensure community-based organizations can continue to provide quality services to those experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness,” said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

“Community organizations within the Yukon have been doing tremendous work to support people who are homeless, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government of Canada’s support will help them continue to help those most in need,” added Larry Bagnell, MP for the Yukon.

Frances said each of the groups that received funding applied for it through them with an unmet need and a specific project in mind beginning in February and had their money a few months later so work could begin. She said that more government funding is on the way to address homelessness in the Yukon and the next round of funding will have a greater focus on the construction or purchase of housing.

Contact Jim Elliot at jim.elliot@yukon-news.com

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