The YWCA is hoping a new project will help youth in experiencing or at risk of homelessness find someone safe and supportive to live.
As part of a funding announcement in Regina this week, the federal and provincial governments provide $570,000 to the YWCA’s Youth Mentorship project, which aims to create six units of affordable housing for Prince Albert youth.
The affordable supported housing will target youth aged 18-21 coming from home environments where they aren’t supported as they enter adulthood. A lot of existing programs end when people turn 18.
‘It drops completely off after you turn 18,” YWCA Prince Albert executive director Donna Brooks said.
“It’s an effort to bridge that.”
Brooks said the YWCA has purchased a property that is in poor shape and hopes to renovate it to accommodate the future tenants. The organization has been working on the project since 2018. It was able to purchase the property in December and is waiting on completed preconstruction work before it can start renovations. The plan is to transform the once-dilapidated home into an “almost new condition.”
“We operate a number of youth homes and a number of other services for youth, as well as a lot of housing and homeless first projects,” brooks said.
‘We noticed a real gap for affordable housing and supportive housing for young people, especially kids that have not had the luxury of growing up in a stable family environment.”
Kids who have grown up in a stable environment have parents to help them when they first head out in life with life skills, helping them to find a place or even housing their kids if they need to return home.
“There are a lot of kids out there and a lot of young people that don’t have that support behind them,” Brooks explained.
“They can’t find places to rent because a lot of landlords won’t rent to people without rental references and you won’t have rental references if you’re just first striking out.”
The housing will also give the tenants access to youth outreach workers to help with life skills and the other things parents would normally help with.
“This allows an affordable place for them to rent but also provides that support,” Brooks said.
The funding for the YWCA project was part of a $1.8 million announced Tuesday for six housing projects in as many Saskatchewan communities.
Neither the federal or provincial government made a spokesperson available for comment. The federal government did provide brief written answers to Daily Herald questions.
“The project intends to give youth in Prince Albert more access to safe, affordable housing giving them the opportunity to build better lives for them and their families,” the Office of the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development wrote.
“The program will target youth either experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Safe, reliable housing is vital to building better lives for Canadians and stronger communities within Canada.”
When asked why they wanted to support the project, the federal government provided a written answer about supporting partners “like Habitat for Humanity,” which isn’t involved in this project but is in the other projects announced Tuesday. Those projects include $675,000 for habitat for Humanity’s largest multi-unit family housing development in Saskatchewan, set for Haultain Crossing in Regina, which will house a total of 62 Habitat partner families along with $130,000 for Habitat for Humanity to build two single-family homes, one in Melfort and one in Estevan, and $495,000 for single-family homes in Ile a la Crosse and Pinehouse under the Trades Training Program.
The province did not respond to a request for comment.