Bill Thomas, Community Advisory Board chair for Yukon Planning Group on Homelessness speaks at a housing forum in 201?. More federal funding to address homelessness is coming to the territory and the board is looking for new members. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Help wanted to end homelessness

Advisory board is looking for more members to administer federal funds locally

More federal funding to address homelessness is coming to the territory and that has the Yukon Planning Group on Homelessness looking for new members for its Community Advisory Board.

The board’s role is to administer the federal funding in the territory coming from the Reaching Home initiative, which aims to reduce homelessness by 50 per cent across the country by 2027/2028.

While it’s not clear yet exactly how much it will mean for the territory, advisory board chair Bill Thomas said in an interview June 26 he is fully expecting it could see funding in the low millions for the territory to address homelessness over the next five years.

Previously, federal contributions were fairly limited, allowing mainly for studies and paperwork looking at the issue.

“That’s about to change. We’re talking serious change,” said Thomas, though he acknowledged the federal election in the fall might impact how much is available to address homelessness in the years to come.

For now though, it seems funding will be increasing in the more immediate future and that has members of the Yukon Planning Group on Homelessness hopeful the advisory committee will have more members to help implement the actions outlined in the Safe At Home Community Based Plan to End and Prevent Homelessness.

“The stars are aligning for the Yukon with the new Reaching Home federal strategy on homelessness,” Thomas said in a statement. “We’re seeing new federal money, new goals, a local plan and an opportunity to have the community meaningfully involved in ending homelessness in the Yukon.”

The advisory board is currently made up of nine members largely from all levels of government and local NGOs. Thomas said ideally the advisory board would be made up of 15 to 20 members representing much more of the territory’s population and various sectors such as the Yukon Hospital Corporation, policing, youth and more.

The group can have up to 36 members under its most recent terms of reference adopted in May, though Thomas said the numbers have varied for the group over the years and seem to work best with between 15 and 20.

Thomas would like to expand the membeship in a way that would also mean having two co-chairs, given the increased work that could be coming its way.

The group meets at least six times each year and would be using the Safe at Home strategy to guide its work.

“Now is the time to ensure we are collaborating on solutions and ensuring we are being innovative,” Thomas said. “We are anxious to work together with community members with lived experience, Indigenous leadership, business owners and others.”

The call for proposals is available on the CYFN, City of Whitehorse, FASSY and Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition websites. Applications can be submitted to ChairCAB@gmail.com

While June 28 had been set as the application deadline, Thomas said that may be extended depending on how many applications come in.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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