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Resources in place to action Encampment Strategy

After Council’s approval of the City’s Encampment Strategy last month, significant progress has been made to secure the resources needed to action the plan.

“As a council, we have prioritized this work by allocating the funding and people needed to be proactive and supportive of our community’s needs,” says Mayor, Blaine Hyggen. “Knowing the challenges we saw across the community last year, I’m extremely grateful for how quickly staff have been able to make these tangible actions to support the strategy.”

Several important milestones have been achieved in the last few weeks including:

  • hiring two, full-time Encampment Response positions
  • training new Encampment Response staff
  • procuring the supplies and fleet service needs related to encampment response
  • hiring a full-time housing special (expected to be in place by the end of June)
  • procuring contracted outreach services
  • enhancing encampment reporting process through 311 for both public and City staff

“This is a huge step forward in equipping us to respond efficiently and effectively to encampments this summer,” says Andrew Malcolm, General Manager of Community Social Development for the City of Lethbridge. “In addition to the dedicated City resources, we’ve also been working shoulder to shoulder with LPS, establishing regular communication and updates between our teams. We have also developed bi-weekly updates with internal City departments, monthly updates with council and the community and have secured a partner to provide vital outreach services”

A key component of the Encampment Strategy is having contracted outreach services to engage with, and prioritize, the needs of those living in encampments. A Request for Proposals (RFP) for outreach services was sent out May 8 to local service providers and closed May 23 with three submissions.

A multi-departmental team, which included LPS, evaluated the proposals and selected Streets Alive as the successful proponent. Their contract term will extend approximately seven months for just under $250,000. These services are expected to be fully operational by June 19. A multi-year procurement will be released in Fall 2023 for services extending beyond December 31, 2023.

Outreach services providers connect with vulnerable individuals living in encampments, connecting them to important resources with a focus on shelter/housing and wellness.

Lethbridge Police Service continues to be a key partner in the roll out of the Encampment Strategy providing increased support thanks to additional funding.

“Working in partnership with the appropriate resources in place is the foundation necessary to provide a timely response to encampments helping to prevent entrenchment while ensuring unhoused individuals are connected with outreach services,” said Sgt. Ryan Darroch, who oversees the Downtown Policing Unit. “This is a well-rounded approach that works to balance public safety with the well-being of our vulnerable population.”

The community is also asked to help report encampments by calling 311. Any immediate, life-threatening issues should always be reported by calling 911.

On April 18, Lethbridge City Council approved funding for up to $500,000 per year for 2023-2026 and $250,000 one-time funding to support the Encampment Strategy.

The Strategy establishes a consistent approach that triages an encampment response based on health and safety risks and allocate the appropriate level of resources.

View the Encampment Strategy for full details on objectives and response process.

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