The City of Lethbridge and Social Housing in Action (SHIA) are ending homelessness in Lethbridge. "Project Connect" reflects this trend in our community. More than 400 individuals and families participated in the most recent event on March 19, 2016, an increasing participation rate since the first Project Connect in 2009. Project Connect continues to expose people to opportunities for essential services, encouragement and supports to pave their way to housing and the ability to secure their housing. Participants at this event included people and families of all ages ranging from infants to seniors in their 80s, and the outcomes of Project Connect clearly demonstrates that a caring and welcoming environment sets the stage for people to make positive choices in their lives.
Lethbridge's 15th Bi-annual "Project Connect" has once again been successful for nearly 400 individuals and families (341 registered) needing services and supports to sustain or secure safe and permanent housing. The significant differences at this Project Connect was the decrease in the number of people needing housing from previous events. Only 29 per cent of those registered indicated they were currently experiencing homelessness compared to over 85 per cent in previous events. An additional 16 per cent were concerned about the permanency of their tenancy. The majority of people experiencing homelessness will access the emergency shelter or stay with friends. Seven individuals admitted to being absolutely homeless and were immediately connected with services and options. Over 60 per cent of the participants have not been homeless in the past four years and have secured a permanent home.
SHIA and the City of Lethbridge, through Community and Social Development along with approximately 200 community volunteers including service and support agencies, private firms and sponsors gathered under one roof. In a trade fair setting, those in our community who are struggling to meet basic needs for themselves and their families came and met with those providing services such as employment, counseling, health services, youth services, government information, legal advice, housing outreach and tax services and advice. A key factor leading individuals and families to attend this increasingly popular event appears to be unemployment and supports living with a low income. Twenty-five per cent of the participants are seeking full time employment. In a welcoming and inclusive environment, people are able to access haircuts, foot care, access to doctors and other health related services, and income tax preparation services is available for those who need them.
"Project Connect "is an opportunity for people in need to come to a positive environment and receive personalized help in dealing with many issues and problems they confront day to day. Follow-up is critical as is continuous improvement to support people in their journey. A full analysis of the outcomes and trends will direct our future Project Connects. "We are privileged to provide services, supports and some hope of housing to those Lethbridge families and individuals without homes as well as those who at risk of losing their homes" says Diane Randell, Manager, Community and Social Development. 'Project Connect 'is also about people helping each other and providing service to those finding themselves affected by life circumstances and the economic downturn."
"This is was our 15th "Project Connect" in Lethbridge, so we are hoping to see more people to come and access this service," says Dr. Gary Bowie, Chair, SHIA. "An important objective is for people to get connected with community agencies and services that can support their journey to permanent housing and we are so grateful to the Planning Committee who organized the event including those listed on the attachment.
People in Lethbridge have responded very positively to volunteering for "Project Connect". This event provides an opportunity for people who want to make a difference for the homeless and those at-risk but have been unsure how they could help. Donations are always most welcomed. The next Project Connect is scheduled for November 19, 2016.
For further information, please visit: www.bringinglethbridgehome.ca.
Media inquiries may be directed to:
Diane Randell, City of Lethbridge 403-320-3917
Dr. Gary Bowie, Chair, Social Housing in Action 403-327-4702
Thank you from the City of Lethbridge and SHIA to:
Housing First agencies
Lethbridge Lion's Clubs
Alberta Health Services and Physicians
River House (Family Ties)
LEO Club from Lethbridge College
All Saint's Roman Catholic Parish
Aramark Food Services
Bad Apple Salon & Spa
Bernadette from Peter & Clarke's
Best Western Plus Inn
Lethbridge Catholic Youth
Lethbridge Christian Tabernacle
Lethbridge Housing Authority
Mary Gaye's Foot Care
MyleHi-Image Salon & Barber
RIAH Hair Salon
South Alberta FASD Network|
St. Francis Junior High School
A River House Neighbour who went above and beyond in helping others gain understanding about the population