by Phil Ambroziak
In spite of its small size, the City of Meadow Lake is not immune to a major issue all cities face – homelessness.
Steps are now being taken to address this, however, with city council’s recent decision to support a grant application for the Meadow Lake Homelessness Coalition under the federal government’s rural and remote homelessness funding stream. The decision was made during council’s regular meeting Jan. 27.
“In early 2018, a group got together and Meadow Lake Outreach Ministries signed a grant application pretty much identical to this,” explained city manager Diana Burton. “They were awarded $81,000 in funding, but for reasons unbeknownst to the group, Meadow Lake Outreach Ministries removed their support from it. I don’t think they had the administrative capacity to administer the grant and to do the work. I spoke with council about it at the time. We were an organization that could have applied, but they would not transfer the funding to another authorized organization and so the community lost out on that funding.”
Burton went on to say Outreach Ministries is in support of the new application, but wanted the city to be the applicant so – if successful – the funding can be administered accordingly.
“There is some administrative work to be done on the city’s part and some reporting we would be responsible for, but it would not require hiring any new city employees,” Burton added. “This grant is given by the federal government and awarded through the YMCA Regina.”
The proposal for the funding is for the coalition to hire a coordinator to work with local agencies and participants to find housing and support for people who are homeless within the community. The coalition, which includes numerous member organizations, has been developed to ensure partnerships are in place to work toward solving systemic and program issues.
In a recent interview, local resident David Mohr expressed his concerns about the homelessness issue in Meadow Lake and the lack of services currently in place to address it.
“I work at the Super 8 hotel in Meadow Lake,” Mohr said. “Our doors are open 24/7, and I have guys showing up there all the time when I’m working late at night. These are people who are homeless and have nowhere else to go, and they’re looking for somewhere warm they can stay. I would love to help them, but I can’t bring them in because I could get in trouble – there is nothing set up in Meadow Lake where these people can go to be off the streets at night. I hate it – it’s such a horrible situation these people are in.”
This as echoed by Natanis Davidsen, executive director of the Door of Hope.
“I personally know quite a few people who have no choice but to sleep outside, in outbuildings, in tents and, in some cases, even in dumpsters – anywhere they can be out of the elements,” she said. “Homelessness isn’t necessarily what some people think it is. Most people think it means there’s nowhere for people to go. In some cases this may be true, but in many cases there are places to go, but people can’t afford the rent. Affordable housing is an issue in Meadow Lake – there’s not enough of it available. All of these issues tie together.”