Homelessness in Our Community
Medicine Hat’s Plan to End Homelessness originated in 2009 and our refocused plan, At Home in Medicine Hat: Our Plan to End Homelessness, launched in 2014. The Plan is based on a ‘housing first’ philosophy and outlines an effective strategy to address homelessness in the community. A comprehensive and coordinated system of care has been built and continues to evolve, ensuring timely access to the right resources and supports to prevent and end homelessness in peoples’ lives.
The Homeless and Housing Development Department functions as the Community Based Organization and Community Entity, established for the purposes of system planner and administering funding targeted to initiatives aimed at ending homelessness.
The following are the key roles of a lead organization:
Work cross-ministry to develop, implement, coordinate and evaluate the system of care and disrupt systems when needed (Health, Justice, Education, Children’s Services, Seniors and Housing).
Local leadership and decision making. The cost savings and efficiency of this approach have been clearly demonstrated, and government support for local autonomy in backbone entity-driven system planning along with the provision of resources and enabling policy is critical. Community decisions about community outcomes.
Consult and engage with diverse stakeholders to support implementation; targets capacity building initiatives, including comprehensive training and technical assistance for the sector.
Manages diverse funding streams to meet community priorities, compliance, program and system performance management, evaluation, and reporting requirements to funders. Investing in services with proven integration and sustainability.
Oversight and implementation of the shared data collection system. Analysis to help make data-informed decisions to determine services and create system efficiencies.
Planning and Investment
Approximately $3.5M dollars of provincial and federal funding is invested annually into organizations to support the successful implementation programs. Recommendations for investments are vetted through the eleven member Community Council on Homelessness.
The planning and investment strategy for April 1st to March 31st funding cycle commences in the fall of each year with program monitors and community-wide engagement sessions.
Programs and Services
Medicine Hat has dedicated community partners, funded and non-funded agencies that support this work and ensure that everyone is working towards helping people on their journey home. The following programs received funding from the Community Based Organization and Community Entity for 2019 – 2020 (April 1st to March 31st) service delivery year:
- Central Intake
- Housing First
- Rapid Re-Housing
- Permanent Supportive Housing
- Graduate Rental Assistance Initative
- Drop-In Program
- Community-Based Youth Shelter
- Youth Hub Outreach Services
- Community Based Addictions Crisis Workers
- Counseling and Cultural Addictions Worker
- Recovery/Stabilization Resource Centre
- Maintenance Support
- Team Outreach Program
- Financial Administrator Program
- Community Capacity Building
- Centralized Support Fund
Medicine Hat Community Housing Society –Outreach Department serves as the coordinated access system into housing first programs in the community. Central Intake assesses the housing and support needs of individuals and families that are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless including those being transitioned and/or discharged into homelessness from community-based Provincial or Federal systems/facilities. Upon completion of the assessment, a referral to the most appropriate program is made.
Diversion redirects individuals from housing first programs to more suitable, less intensive services that will meet their needs. The role of the Central Intake worker is to assist individuals to establish housing security through the provision of brief, client-focused, direct hands-on intervention and support.
Housing loss prevention efforts focus on providing one-time financial assistance for eligible individuals and families who have an active Notice to Vacate due to non-payment of rent for a one-month time period.
Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society provides housing with supports through intensive case management (ICM) for individuals and families who experience chronic and episodic homelessness and who present with higher acuity needs. The duration of the program is approximately 12 months.
Medicine Hat Community Housing Society – Outreach Department provides housing with supports through case management for individuals and families who experience chronic and episodic homelessness and who present with moderately acute needs. The duration of this program is approximately 4-6 months.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is an evidence-based intervention that links permanent, affordable housing with flexible, voluntary support services to assist with housing retention and independent living. It is primarily targeted to individuals who have a history, or are at risk of, housing instability that are currently living in the private rental market or non-sustainable housing situations.
Canadian Mental Health Association provides on-site 24/7 housing with supports through intensive case management (ICM) supports for individuals in two PSH buildings. Each property has 15 independent units, one office, and common space area. Tenancy is not time-limited (an indefinite length of stay is possible, not intended to be transitional in nature). CMHA also provides housing and supports for up to 10 individuals who benefit from scatter-site models in community in alignment with the housing first philosophy with a focus on the increased frequency of visits to support housing stability.
The CBO provides on-going financial assistance in the form of rent supplements to eligible individuals and families that have graduated from housing first programs. Subsidy rates are aligned with local Housing Management Body rates.
The Salvation Army Resource Centre provides the Drop-In program, operating 7 days a week (including stat holidays) from 7:30am to 11:30am. The primary goal of the program is the preservation of life for those having to leave the shelter in the morning, to provide a warm, non-judgmental place to be out of the elements. The secondary goal of the program is to connect people experiencing housing instability with existing services and resources within the homeless-serving system.
The Inn Between – McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association is a six bed residential home that provides emergency housing, home placement care, and supports for up to six youth aged 12-17. One of the six beds is reserved for community-based youth who are homeless or at imminent risk. Focusing on prevention and early intervention, the primary goal is to reduce the number of nights a youth stays by providing mediation and conflict resolution in order to reunify the youth with their families as quickly as possible.
McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association supports community-based youth aged 12-24 that are at risk of becoming homeless due to family conflict as well as those currently homeless or staying in the youth shelter. Appropriate housing/re-housing of the youth, as well as supports to the family to promote family reunification, is the focus of this program. Those individuals requiring assessment for housing first based service interventions will be referred and/or accompanied to Central Intake for services.
The Canadian Mental Health Association provides oversight for two (2) Addiction Crisis workers who are responsible for responding to individuals who are experiencing crisis behaviour due to addiction, stabilizing the individual’s addiction through streamlined access to community resources and reducing reliance on emergency services. The Addiction Crisis workers are integrated into the Medicine Hat Police Service, Addictions Crisis Team (ACT).
The Miywasin Friendship Centre Counseling Program provides individual and family counselling program for Aboriginal individuals at risk of homelessness. The Cultural Addictions Counselor is responsible for the development and implementation of the Miywasin Addictions Counseling Program for Aboriginal clients with addiction issues. The program will focus on Aboriginal culture, traditions and practices as a pathway to healing.
McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association (in partnership with MHCHS and Alberta Health Services) is contracted for the development and implementation of a Recovery/Stabilization program. This program will provide a safe and supportive sober and abstinence-based transitional environment for individuals 18+ who are in recovery, specifically those who have completed detox and are waitlisted for residential treatment programs, and those who have completed residential treatment and require additional housing and supports while transitioning back to community. Transition from the program will be supported through existing community-based systems of care, including but not limited to Central Intake services.
The Miywasin Friendship Centre offers a variety of programs to the community at large, including Elder’s and youth programming, Aboriginal cultural activities and events, transitional housing and counselling support. The maintenance support position will assist with the maintenance and repairs to ensure a timely transition of tenants into the property.
Southeastern Alberta Sexual Assault Response Centre provides a prevention-based program known as Team Outreach Program, which is a targeted child/youth based early homelessness intervention strategy that will identify high-risk youth and their families through partnerships with educational institutions, law enforcement and Children’s Service referrals.
The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a financial administrator program that includes delivery of budgeting for beginners workshops, and case management support for individuals and families who are connected to a housing first program, who are at risk of becoming homeless, as well as community members. Generally, the duration of the program is approximately 3-12 months, dependent on the intensity and/or duration of support(s) required for individuals or families to achieve financial stability.
The CBO provides oversight for the development of service provider and community capacity building as it relates to efforts to end homelessness in the community. This includes the provision of mandatory and supplemental training for service providers, access to training and learning/education opportunities for community partners, and community/ leadership development around systems planning, integration, and the professionalization of housing first. Community and stakeholder engagement, planning, and reporting back to the community is included under this initiative.
The CBO provides oversight for the Centralized Support fund, which has two purposes: first, it provides assistance to families (with children under 18 years) that present at the shelter with a hotel stay when other options have been exhausted. This is a coordinated effort with all shelters in community and Central Intake. The funds also provide support to individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness and whose situations fall outside the scope and eligible expenditures of funded programs and services.