YXE Underground and the challenges of finding safe and affordable housing in Saskatoon

Jordan Mills, Priscilla Johnstone and Chelsie Fulton are working in different ways to solve what they call one of Saskatoon’s biggest challenges: finding safe and affordable housing for the city’s homeless population.

For Mills, the Director of Clinical Services at Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Services, that means finding a home for a person before addressing any mental health or addiction challenges they may be experiencing. Since 2014, he has been leading the Housing First project, which makes finding a home for a vulnerable person the top priority.

“Most of the time, people who are in the throes of addiction and are not doing well with their mental health are not really ready for access to treatment,” he explained to YXE Underground’s Eric Anderson. “They’re usually looking for basic necessities which is housing, shelter and belonging.”

At Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership, Johnstone works with community organizations to deliver funding for various projects. She also draws on her experiences as an Indigenous woman to connect with Saskatoon’s Indigenous homeless population.

Johnstone is the organization’s Homeless Action Plan Manager and stresses the importance of Indigenous people being able to connect with their culture.

“What I learned from my own journey is if you don’t have a strong connection to your identity or culture, you lose your connection of where you belong,” she told Anderson. “I found that belonging, and everything I’ve done in my life is what held me together regarding any crisis I’ve experienced.”

At OUTSaskatoon’s Pride Home, Manager Chelsie Fulton and her team work hard to ensure their tenants receive the love and support they are searching for.

Pride Home opened in January of 2017 and provides 2SLGBTQ youth between the ages of 16 and 21 a safe place to live open and free lives. It serves an important role in Saskatoon, as an OUT Saskatoon survey showed 30 percent of youth in its youth programs had been homeless or without secure housing at some point in their lives.

“We do a lot of peer support,” said Fulton. “It’s tough for some kids having to navigate coming to a new home and figuring out who they are, but also having such support and love that they are not used to.”

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