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Improved security for Safe Harbour facilities

People's Place overnight shelter and the daytime winter Warming Centre have new security cameras thanks to $36,151 from Alberta's Ministry of Community and Social Services.

The province recently announced $1.2 million for 17 homeless shelters to complete capital maintenance and upgrades.

Kath Hoffman, executive director of Central Alberta's Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing, said funding paid for more cameras inside and outside.

A new system has already been installed at People's Place and the old system from People's Place was upgraded and installed at the Warming Centre.

She said this past winter fewer people were using People's Place shelter, but Warming Centre saw an average of 70 people throughout the day.

"It certainly served its purpose for a lot of people who needed to come in and warm up. They're in and out. I know that there were some rough campers who came in during the day to be with people and just watch TV. That was good too," Hoffman said on Tuesday.

It was an opportunity to connect with people staff don't usually meet and start to build relationships, she said.

According to the province, more than 5,000 Albertans do not have a permanent place to call home and of those nearly half turn to emergency shelters for a safe place to spend the night.

On Tuesday Central Alberta's Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a lunch time barbecue. Safe Harbour Society, Central Alberta Housing Society, and the Residential Society of Red Deer opened under one roof as a single agency in 2007 to assist the homeless and people with addictions.

Hoffman said people leaving Alberta during the economic slowdown could have played a role in the reduced shelter use.

The stress of job loss can also lead people into an addiction cycle as they look for ways to relieve that stress. That is likely one reason why addiction is an increasing issue for society so supports and services have to be in place when people ask for help and during recovery, she said.

Alberta Health Services is providing $400,000 in annual funding to convert Safe Harbour's 20-bed social detox into a medical detox.

She said the medical detox should be in place in the fall with a registered nurse on every shift and doctors also coming in to help people with multiple health issues.

"Having in-house medical supports is like having a dream come true," Hoffman said.

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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