With the continuously struggling economic activity in the oil sector many local services are still feeling a strain on resources. Some shelters have been at full capacity for weeks at a time and has even had to turn people away due to lack available spaces.
The Lloydminster Men’s Shelter has been steadily full since June and have had to turn away people who were seeking help twice now during the summer months.
“It is added strain. Always in a not-for-profit finances are a big thing,” said Laura Berube, executive director at the Men’s Shelter. “(We’ve had) an increase in groceries, but we’ve also had an increase in transient activity, which means we are having to hand out a lot more lunches. We have a lot more people coming in for service.”
In situations where people have to be turned away, the shelter does its best not to leave them high and dry. Instead, the shelter is contacting emergency social services, whether it’s Alberta or Saskatchewan, to see what can be arranged. Most often they can find a hotel room for the people needing a place to go, telling them to check back the next day to see if a space has opened up.
People who use the service are generally only supposed to stay for 21 days, but some exceptions are made for people who need a little extra time to get money together for a down payment on an apartment. The shelter takes things on a case-by-case basis, but by and large three weeks is the optimal amount of time someone can stay at the Men’s Shelter.
The Men’s Shelter is also opening an affordable living environment called the Gibney House and is trying to find new ways to raise funds for its services.
“We have a big walk in February,” said Berube, referring to the Coldest Night of the Year walk, which is a national campaign that raises money for the homeless. “And this year Border City Furniture is putting on a barbecue for us. Then we’re looking at other avenues for fundraising.”
Berube says they do have a lot of help locally with people bringing in clothing, food and cash donations but lately it’s still been hard to keep up with the added demand for service.
“We do have a lot of other community support. We’re very blessed that way. However, it always seems that we’re needing more and more,” she said.