Released August 4, 2008
Provincial Housing Minister Attends Conference on Homelessness
The Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister Responsible for Housing and Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, recently attended an American national conference to discuss solutions to end homelessness. Fresh from the conference, held in Washington, DC, July 28-30, Minister Skinner shared his thoughts on the issue.
"We can work together to find solutions to end homelessness – the first step is to believe it can be done," said Minister Skinner. "I firmly believe the best approach is to come together, to listen and learn from everyone who is in this struggle with us. There are strategies out there that work, and building partnerships and sharing what we know is how we’ll find the solution."
The minister added: "Through the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to building the necessary partnerships and investing in programs and services that will reduce, alleviate and prevent poverty."
This past year alone, the Provincial Government has made increased investments of nearly $50 million in a series of programs and housing initiatives throughout the province. These initiatives, delivered through Newfoundland Labrador Housing, can ultimately help to prevent homelessness. These investments include a $25.5 million increase over the next five years in Housing’s Modernization and Improvement budget. The Provincial Government has also doubled the current provincial contribution to the Provincial Home Repair Program to $24 million over the next six years. In addition, since 2003, under the Affordable Housing Program, the province has committed over $24 million to 46 private and non-profit sector groups to create 484 homes for low-income households province-wide by 2010.
The conference, which is the largest and most comprehensive annual event of its kind in North America, was hosted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The alliance, a leading voice on the issue of homelessness in the United States, is a non-partisan, mission-driven organization that works collaboratively with the public, private and non-profit sectors to build capacity. This approach leads to stronger programs and policies that help communities achieve their goal of ending homelessness. Minister Skinner was invited to meet with Nan Roman, president of the alliance, to exchange strategies and approaches regarding homelessness.
Canada’s presence at this conference has been steadily growing in recent years, with delegates from the Canadian National Homelessness Secretariat as well as the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador who attended this year’s conference.
Minister Skinner was accompanied by Newfoundland Labrador Housing’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Len Simms. There were also a number of other provincial representatives from community-based supportive housing providers in attendance, as well as advocates representing Stella Burry Corporation, Choices for Youth, and Homelessness Advisory Committees throughout the province.
The agenda was filled with a range of topics directly related to this province’s efforts to address housing and homelessness here at home. Topics included: Public and Private Partnerships in Housing Development; Ending Rural Homelessness; Building and Engaging Community; Developing Integrated Housing; Engaging the Private Sector; and Financing Housing Development.
- 30 -