“The bottom line is we want to cut down on redundancy in services for the homeless and identify areas where not enough is being done to address problems,” said Anonson, a U of S College of Nursing professor.
Anonson has been awarded a $25,000 Partnership Engage grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to develop a streamlined approach to addressing homelessness in Prince Albert and beyond.
The project aims to stimulate collaboration among academic researchers, community leaders, social agencies, frontline workers and homeless persons. An inter-professional and interdisciplinary approach helps with sharing information, co-ordinating services and creating new knowledge, she said.
“Engaging community leaders in the discussion will re-stimulate commitment to improving services, and reduce the burden on related local services offered through health, legal and social services,” Anonson said.
Along with the Prince Albert YWCA, which has been providing housing services for vulnerable people since 1912, Anonson’s partnership project includes the City of Prince Albert, the municipal police service, the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region, the River Bank Development Corp., Saskatchewan Polytechnic, First Nations University and the University of Regina.
Anonson noted a 2015 study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives which reported 20 per cent of Saskatchewan residents stated they are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
According to a 2016 report by the Canadian Observatory of Homelessness, 35,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night and at least 235,000 experience homelessness in a year, she said. And while Indigenous people constitute 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population, 28 per cent to 34 per cent of people using shelters are Indigenous.
Specific objectives of Anonson’s partnership project are to:
- Identify root causes of chronic, episodic and transitional homelessness, and determine the specific needs of homeless persons and how to communicate with them.
- Investigate barriers that face homeless persons and community agencies in order to determine how services can be improved, and develop a collaborative strategy that can be applied in Prince Albert and elsewhere.
- Create a comprehensive list of services available in Prince Albert and area, and provide a condensed and laminated version directly to homeless persons. The list will also be translated into at least one of the local Indigenous languages.
“Rural and remote communities experience particular challenges that aren’t a factor in most larger urban centres, such as fragmented resources and isolated clients who move in and out of rural areas,” Anonson noted.
“The best practices we develop will be transferable to other communities across Saskatchewan and across Canada. This can be a model for future collaborative projects.”
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