Increase in transients requires discussion: PARTNERS

HUMBOLDT — Although there is currently no acute need for a homeless shelter in Humboldt, a local family support organization suggests a discussion about an increase in transient individuals arriving in the city should be taking place.

A recent annual report developed and released by Partners Family Services in Humboldt suggests there is an increasing number of low- or no-income people visiting the community for short and extended periods of time.

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“Transient clients continue to be one of the biggest challenges of this program,” the report said. “Humboldt does not have a shelter for homeless individuals, nor are there sufficient spaces for homeless people in the province.”

Hayley Kennedy is Partners’ executive director. She says 12- to 20-bed facilities in Melfort, Saskatoon and Prince Albert are providing enough shelter for homeless people arriving in Humboldt. These centres also provide services to local victims of domestic abuse and other situations requiring temporary shelter.

However, funding to transport those in need to these other centres is lacking.

“When we talk about transient individuals, they’re not always defined specifically as homeless. They may be stopping in the city while passing through and don’t have hometown roots,” she said. “Many are temporary workers or families moving across the country that ran out of funds. We are seeing an increase in these types of individuals who need assistance.”

As more poor or homeless people arrive in the city, Partners has a growing need for money to provide shelter for these people in Melfort, Saskatoon and Prince Albert. The organization has been relying on an internal Bridging Resource Fund, an account intended primarily to support transient people in need. This fund was started in 2016 for quick access to money in emergency situations.

“Transients would fall into that category,” said Kennedy. “Our priority is making sure they have something to eat, we find a way to get a roof over their head and they can connect to ongoing resources.”

Despite the growth in homeless transients in Humboldt, Kennedy said the city’s permanent homeless statistics do not support the need for a shelter here. At the moment, facilities in surrounding communities are able to fulfill their own needs as well as requests from Humboldt.

Nevertheless, local stakeholders need to discuss both financial and infrastructural initiatives should the trend in homeless visitors increase.

“This is not just about putting a band aid on homelessness,” Kennedy said. “We need to find the right fit for Humboldt. Homelessness is not always the same fit in each community.”

Established in the late 1990s, Partners Family Services is a charitable, non-profit organization that identifies, develops and maintains support for struggling families in Humboldt and area. The organization’s Family Support Centre officially opened in 2001 with Partnerships developed with the Department of Justice, Health, Education, Social Services, Mental Health Services, RESOLVE Saskatchewan, the religious community and other organizations and agencies since then.

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