Homeless housing extended

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The uncertainty of a few weeks ago has been resolved at least as far as the Slave Lake Mat Program is concerned. Both the need for extended funding and someone to cook have been filled.

Barb Courtorielle, executive-director of the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre runs the Mat Program on top of her regular work. The program provides a place to sleep indoors from November to the end of April for people without a home in Slave Lake.

Alberta’s homeless people are listed as vulnerable, says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, because they do not have the access to the same supports and services many Albertans take for granted.

On Monday, April 27, the first four cases of COVID-19 among Alberta’s homeless population were confirmed in Calgary, said Dr. Hinshaw in a COVID-19 video update. To date, 1,000 homeless people with symptoms have been tested.

With this in mind, there is extra funding to help the homeless and there are new regulations on physical distancing and hygiene.

The Mat Program received some of these funds through Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) to remain open until the end of June. ARDN is the regular funding source, says Courtorielle. This means that the reports and everything else remains the same, which makes her job much easier.

Also making her job easier is Pat Potvin, who has volunteered to cook for the homeless. It is a “nice treat,” says Courtorielle.

Since the weather has been nicer, Courtorielle classifies attendance at the program as “random.”

Whether it stays random or not, having the extra funds means the Mat Program can continue to support the homeless with an option of a bed indoors until the end of June.

The next hurdle for the Mat Program is to find a new home for the fall.
Anyone with any ideas of an available building can contact Courtorielle at the Friendship Centre.

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