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Emergency housing through Lakeland FASD getting a boost

The Lakeland Centre for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) received funding through the federal Reaching Home Program. File photo.

COLD LAKE – The Lakeland Centre for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is hoping to expand some of their services after being awarded a federal grant.

The centre is among 12 Alberta organizations that will receive a portion of the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home Program grant. The initiative provides financial support for programs geared towards helping some of the most vulnerable people in a community by maintaining safe, stable, and affordable housing. It was launched in 2018 with roughly $2.2-billion dedicated to addressing homelessness across the country.

“We’re really excited about this opportunity, and I think it’s going to be very beneficial to our clients and the supports in the community,” expressed Lisa Murphy, executive director for the Lakeland Centre for FASD.

The organization will be using the roughly $330,000 they will receive over the next four years for their emergency housing suite located in the Spirit Arms building at 5202 49 St. Cold Lake.

“We’re currently using it for our clients who are finding themselves… without housing,” Murphy explained. “Any one of our clients who are in need of housing, we can have them stay there for up to three months, and during that time, we’re working with them to help transition them into more permanent housing.”

Since opening the bachelor apartment in 2018, around 20 Lakeland Centre clients have resided there, paying a small fee for rent during their stay.

 “With this new funding, we’ll be able to provide some additional programming to go along with it. A little bit more support for our folks that are in there, and I think the most important part is the funding is really helping us to subsidize some of the costs of renting the unit out to our folks. Any of the individuals that are in there are paying rent, so this is really helping with those costs,” detailed Murphy, adding they’re hoping to increase the number of people who access the unit from three to four a year.

“We’ve had people in the there since we opened it and some have stayed the full three months, others have stayed for a couple of weeks. It’s really dependent on the needs of the client and that I think that’s what makes it successful, because we can offer it for what they need at that time. Once they’re connected with the centre, we can also make sure that there’s more programming and we can make sure that there’s more supports in place.”

FASD is a term used to describe the range of effects that can happen if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. While the symptoms vary, Murphy noted some of their clients face homelessness as a result of FASD.

“It’s really dependent on what supports they have. We find that a lot of our individuals tend to lead a transient life, and a lot of this is due to the complexity of their disability. It happens often, but if they have more supports then it’s not as much of an issue.”

Other projects in Alberta chosen to receive money through the program include the Strathmore Overnight Shelter, the Camrose Open Door Association, and Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

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