Person-focused homelessness strategy tabled in N.W.T.

A new homelessness strategy tabled in the N.W.T. says moving toward person-centered service means recognizing that people are experts in what they need. (Liny Lamberink/CBC)

Strategy also wants to pinpoint manageable level of homelessness in each community

A new homelessness strategy unveiled Wednesday by the N.W.T. government aims to shift the territory away from focusing on programs and toward focusing on people.

The strategy, named “A Way Home,” says person-centred service recognizes that every person is an expert in what they need, and puts individuals at the heart of decision-making.

“This change will require a cultural shift in service provision across the [Government of the Northwest Territories],” the strategy said. “It requires commitment to ongoing effort that may in some cases, only produce small, incremental positive change, especially at first.”

The strategy was tabled at the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday afternoon. The document outlines solutions for four different kinds of homelessness, covering people who are unsheltered, emergency sheltered, provisionally accommodated and at risk of homelessness.

Goal for each community 

One of those solutions, which the strategy describes as “ambitious and worthy,” is to bring the number of people and families experiencing homelessness down to a point where they can be managed by permanent housing and services that are available in each community.

The strategy refers to this number as being a “functional zero” goal — and it wants to establish such a goal in each community. This will look different across communities, the report said.

The strategy also recognizes ending homelessness entirely is not a realistic goal.

“There will always be a need for emergency shelter options,” the report said. “The goal … is that homelessness is prevented whenever possible, and when homelessness does occur it is rare, brief, and non-recurring.”

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Population growth in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, prompts call for homeless shelter, CBC News

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