Representatives from Saskatchewan’s biggest cities and smallest communities are in Saskatoon this week (March 15, 2023) for the ‘Building Community — Saskatchewan Housing and Homelessness Conference’ hosted by Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S).
“We hear from citizens in all regions of the province, north, central and south, who tell us about the inadequate living conditions and housing shortages in their communities,” said MN-S president Glen McCallum.
“This conference is designed to bring all parties together to develop solutions and distinctions-based approaches to homelessness and housing that will provide a strong direction all governments can use.”
McCallum announced a new $1.5 million investment in “affordable and accessible” northern housing.
The money will be used to build six new tiny homes and two three-bedroom houses in the Village of Île-à-la-Crosse, to be completed in 2024.
McCallum said the investment, which will be managed in partnership with Métis Local 21, Sakitawak Development Corporation and the village itself, is an example of the kind of “out of the box thinking” Saskatchewan communities need to embrace to address homelessness and shelter needs.
“It’s time to sit down and work together,” McCallum said. “We cannot work in isolation.”
Louise Michaud, the province’s assistant deputy minister for disability programs and housing, said she looks forward to forging new collaborations and strengthening old partnerships at the conference.
“This event today … provides the opportunity for us to hear some stories, to exchange ideas, to build relationships and to really fund solutions that will connect people with the types of housing they need,” she said.
Since 2021, the social services ministry has invested $25 million in addressing homelessness in Saskatchewan, more than half of it in support of new emergency shelter spaces, Michaud said.
“We continue to work closely with all levels of government … to develop our long-term approach to ending chronic homelessness in Saskatchewan. Collaboration allows us to better support one another, as well as to support those who are experiencing homelessness.”
Over the course of the two-day conference, participants will attend panels and hear from experts on income security, rural homelessness, the “realities of housing the hardest to house,” homeless encampments, youth homelessness and more.
Federal housing advocate Marie-Josée Houle is scheduled to host a “fireside chat” on Wednesday morning.
By Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 15, 2023