LETHBRIDGE: A half million dollar grant from the provincial government should go a long way to help combat youth homelessness in Lethbridge, say local representatives. The Alberta government announced Thursday it will grant $431,575 to a YWCA project in the city that offers youth at risk of homelessness a leg up.
"We were elated. For the YWCA, it's certainly a stroke to say that we're doing a good job with youth in our city," said the organization's local CEO, Christine Cassie.
The YWCA has worked with Lethbridge youth for more than 25 years. Right now, there are about 13 beds for at-risk youth throughout the community - not the least of which was phase one of the YWCA's current "sunrise" youth housing project.
Seven youth cycled through the program so far and have gone on to college, trade work, and fulltime employment. This newest round of funding will go towards a $616,537 project - phases two and three of "sunrise," where the YWCA plans to buy two more homes and provide six more beds for at-risk youth.
"Many of us were blessed with parents or someone around who was important to us who helped us get established and create those life skills so we can actually learn to pay bills, go on to school and work through those tough times we face," said Cassie. "But the youth we're working with in these three homes may have come from foster care environments or may have left home because of drug or alcohol issues for someone in the family or themselves - some kind of rough start in life."
The YWCA is working with the City of Lethbridge and the Sunrise Rotary Club to come up with operational funding and donations to make up the rest of the project's price tag. The Alberta government provided more than 11,000 affordable housing units in the province since establishing a targeted task force in 2007. Lethbridge has so far created a total of 466 affordable housing units using more than $23 million in government grants issued in the past four years.