A new four-storey complex for Stepping Stones Crisis Society (SSCS) in Cold Lake is part of a funding announcement made by the Alberta Government March 9.

Alberta’s Affordable Housing Partnership Program is providing $54 million to support 17 projects in nine communities across the province. More than 600 new affordable housing units will be built under the program, which is part of a 10-year agreement between the federal and provincial governments as part of the federal National Housing Strategy.

SSCS will receive $2 million under the program.

SSCS says the number of people they have had to turn away has increased by 350 per cent over the last five years. 

“Our 30-year-old building is no longer able to meet the needs of the region,” said Cindy Yang, SSCS’s director of strategic priorities.  

“The last six years have seen our services separated into four buildings in an attempt to meet these needs, increasing barriers to access for community members and multiplying administrative costs,” Yang said. “This reaffirmed our priority to increase shelter beds, and work to amalgamate our programs and services under one roof.”

The new building will increase their emergency shelter beds from 24 beds to 63 beds, and increase their second-stage housing apartments from six to 12 units. 

It will have space too for SSCS to increase services and partnerships with other agencies in the region, and “will also be accessible for individuals with limited mobility, which includes emergency shelter and second-stage housing units,” Yang said.

“This project will anchor our centre as a regional support for vulnerable Albertans facing life crisis as a result of family violence, and will extend the continuum of care for clients as they rebuild their lives free from violence,” she added.

The $2 million announced by the Alberta government will not cover the costs of building the new centre, but puts SSCS in a  position to start construction. Yang says they expect the new facility, which will be built at the corner of  47th Street and 54th Avenue in Cold Lake, to be finished by December 2024.

She said the society will be hiring more staff to operate the expanded services. “We are actively preparing for change management, including increasing supports for existing staff, as well as preparing for talent acquisition,” she said.

The provincial announcement includes funding for seniors’ housing and affordable community housing, as well as housing units for people with disabilities and newcomers.

The Stepping Stones Crisis Society was formerly known as the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre.