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Home News Council to debate proposed Homelessness Action Initiative at Monday meeting

Council to debate proposed Homelessness Action Initiative at Monday meeting

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Council to debate proposed Homelessness Action Initiative at Monday meeting
Prince Albert City Hall -- Herald file photo.

Prince Albert city council will consider supporting a new project to reduce homelessness in the community when they meet at City Hall on Monday.

Researcher and collaboration specialist Chad Nilson from the Living Skies Centre for Social Inquiry will lead the new Homelessness Action Initiative, if it’s approved by council. The City will also contribute $10,500 to the effort out of the Fiscal Stabalization Fund.

City manager Jim Toye wrote in a report that Prince Albert needed to hear from businesses, community leaders, service providers, and homelessness advocates, and Nilson could help in engaging with all of them.

“Through a structured, research-driven process, the engagement of Dr. Nilson will assist in examining and discussing data that can help all of the many different sectors involved … identify what they can do to limit the risk, occurrence, and impact of homelessness on our community,” Toye’s report reads. “The project is not to provide a wish list to our provincial or federal government. This project is about sorting out actionable solutions for a complicated social condition that we all share ownership over together.”

The Prince-Albert based Nilson has worked with multiple provincial and Indigenous governments, and community based organizations across the country. Toye wrote that Nilson is internationally recognized for his work, with a research background that made him an ideal person to partner with.

“As a facilitator, Dr. Wilson has secured collaboration among multiple jurisdictions and sectors to overcome significant capacity, systemic, and social problems,” the report reads. “He has fostered shared ownership over community safety and well-being outcomes among partners who typically see different perspectives on complicated community problems.”

Locally, Nilson has worked on multiple homelessness projects in Prince Albert, including homelessness counts involving more than 40 service organizations and roughly 100 homeless individuals.

The most recent point-in-time count occurred on March 24. It showed 97 individuals identifying as homeless, 91 per cent of which were Indigenous.

Mayor Greg Dionne said Prince Albert’s homeless population has become more visible in recent years, and that has many residents looking to council for solutions.

“The homeless situation has always existed, but it’s escalating to a crisis,” Dionne said in a press release. “We’ve all been witness to it as we see more and more people sleeping on the streets. It’s an issue that has landed on our doorstep, and we are at the point where we have to take and assertive role on behalf of our residents and business owners.”

The Homelessness Action Initiative will have four stages involving outreach efforts, conversations with community groups, and data collection. The goal is to create a list of recommendations the City can use to prevent people from becoming homeless, reduce the negative impacts homelessness has on people without a home, and reduce barriers that may keep people on the streets.

The Homelessness Action Initiative is one of 11 items up for debate when council meets on Monday, Nov. 8. Start time is 5 p.m. at City Hall.