In late April 2020 Saskatoon churches, including United congregations and Integrated Community Ministries, stepped up to furnish some desperately needed transitional housing for people who have been released from jail in order to slow the spread of COVID. It was decided that opening church buildings for emergency shelter was not the best way forward, and that our congregations could provide others supports instead. But in these conversations about emergency shelter, deep concerns about both need and capacity emerged.
Community and street outreach organizations across the province have expressed deep concern about the province’s very low level of funding for emergency and transitional shelter in the midst of the COVID crisis. The province set only $171,000 aside for shelter services in ten communities. By contrast, if SK were to fund emergency shelter at the same level per capita as Alberta, it would have offered $9 million to authorized community and crisis organizations.
Saskatoon Interagency Response prepared this video to bring attention to underfunding; members have also noted that this crisis simply highlights the very poor state of government under funding of housing in SK. As with many other social needs, COVID is shining a light on cracks that have long been a reality in our support systems.
As we work to keep our communities of faith viable and vibrant in this pandemic, may we also turn our energy and Gospel commitments to those hit hardest by it. As we are able, concerned people in Living Skies Regional Council will offer action ideas; as you are able, please be aware of your wider community needs like shelter, food security, mental and spiritual health, and more, and please participate in these action invitations.