The City of Yellowknife will receive $6 million in new federal funding over five years to combat homelessness.
Yellowknife is two years into a 10-year plan to end homelessness expected to cost more than $100 million in housing units and services required.
Though the federal government did not directly tie the cash to that plan, the money does relate to a federal target of cutting national chronic homelessness by 50 percent in the next eight years.
The announcement – the latest in a slew of federal funding commitments to the NWT as we near an election –was made by Liberal NWT MP Michael McLeod on Thursday.
Funding will come from a federal program named Territorial Homelessness, which replaces a series of older regional funding streams.
Councillor Stacie Smith, who chairs Yellowknife’s community advisory board on homelessness, said: “Today’s announcement will positively impact the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Smith said the money would support City Hall’s 10-year plan and “ultimately address this pressing social issue.”
The City of Yellowknife has previously declared homelessness a “by-product of a colonial legacy” left by atrocities like the Sixties Scoop. Authorities have historically struggled to address the related concerns of homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence among vulnerable people in the city’s downtown.
In 2016, a report estimated 1,500 people in Yellowknife used emergency shelter or transitional housing facilities at least once a year.
During a 2015 count of people vulnerable to homelessness, 91 percent of those included said they were Indigenous. Just 11 percent of those said they were born in Yellowknife, which the municipality says indicates a larger, territory-wide problem.
The federal government said it was working to “keep decision-making at the local level and give communities greater flexibility to address local priorities and achieve results for homeless individuals and families within their communities.”
In a news release, Ottawa said Yellowknife – and other communities receiving similar cash – would “have three years to implement coordinated access to prioritize those individual most in need.”