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Homeless supports get federal funds

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Hinton’s Employment and Learning Place (HELP) is receiving $290,052 to fund its overnight mat program and Freddy’s Resource Room for homeless people.

HELP was one of the 12 projects in Alberta included in a $3.7 million grant program being distributed by the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN).

ARDN received a federal grant through the Reaching Home Program that had committed $2.2 billion to tackle homelessness across Canada as part of the federal government’s national housing strategy.

HELP will submit its expenses for the approved project quarterly to the ARDN, said Deena Fuller, executive director at HELP. 

The funds will cover part of the operations of Freddy’s Resource Room as well as HELP’s support worker starting on April 1, 2020 until March 31, 2024.

Operations for Freddy’s room includes rent and insurance. Fuller added it was pretty exciting to receive funding for an extended period of time as it doesn’t often happen. 

HELP applied for the funding in January 2019 and learned in December that they were successful candidates. They didn’t receive the full amount they had requested in their proposal and will still have to raise funds to cover additional expenses.

Freddy’s was previously funded through a matching grant of the community initiative program (CIP), which runs out on April 1, 2020.

HELP opened up Freddy’s in 2017, which provides showers, computer access, food, clothing and a support worker for homeless people. HELP’s stats showed that the room had 251 visits between the time it opened and June 2018.

Funds also help with the initial year of the mat program which started in November 2019.

The mat program is in its pilot year and HELP will re-evaluate after this year if there is a big need.

Beyond its pilot year, HELP would have to find a different way to fund the program as this grant covers a part time worker, operations, and volunteer training for one year only.

The 12 projects that were chosen were selected out of a group of 33 applications. Other projects were selected in Fort Macleod, Slave Lake, MD Greenview, Rocky Mountain House, Vulcan, Camrose area, Hinton, Banff and Bow Valley region, Central northern Alberta region, Cold Lake, and Strathmore.

Funds will help detox programs, mat programs, numerous support programs to transition out of homelessness, a rural outreach worker for youth, a homeless count and housing needs assessments, FASD clients programming, shelter renovation costs, and staff costs.