Square One Community Moose Jaw is facilitating a conversation about homeless with other agencies in the community.

"Our first initial meeting was just for people to learn what each agency does and we also invited elected officials and people within the community that are providing services to share a lot of the information," said Square One Vice-Chair Crystal Froese.

"A lot of this process has come from looking at Medicine Hat's success and their strategy towards achieving zero homelessness in their community. The common denominator of their success is a collaboration with all agencies and service groups."

The agencies in Moose Jaw include Lakeview Centre, the John Howard Society, Souls Harbour, Riverside Mission, Salvation Army, Transition House, social services and others. The conversations have been taking place over the past year.

"Just working with them to have a greater understanding of the needs that we have here in our community," commented Froese. "Part of this for Square One is discovering what the gaps are and how we can go about assisting and filling those. The two that seem to rise to the surface are a warming centre as well as an emergency shelter for women. Those are the two that have come up consistently in our community."

Froese notes they've reached out to organizations like Chief Mark Arcand in Saskatoon, who has the Saskatchewan Tribal Council Wellness Centre. 

"He shared lots of information as well as their executive director on their model and how they have a barrier-free centre for their emergency shelter, which means they're looking after people in whatever situation the person shows up in their life. Whether they're having addiction issues or behavioural or mental health or any of those needs. They are kind of the front-line contacts for people to begin to help them make better choices and to care for them in that capacity."

Square One is also looking to establish a volunteer bank.

"Because we know that there are people obviously that want to share their time and people have different skill sets," explained Froese. "We think that's really important to be able to draw on that for when we actually get up and running. We also have volunteers that help us with our raffles, with our fundraisers, and those types of things."

She adds they're in the process of seeking grants and are looking to their partners in the province for assistance.

"Both MLAs are kept up to date with our progress and they're looking to help support us as well and we've built a great relationship with Moose Jaw Non-Profit Housing. We just recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with them. We're looking to explore what that relationship is going to look like in the next couple of months here as well."

Froese says one of the issues has been coming up with concrete numbers on homelessness in Moose Jaw.

"That is also a real challenge in our city, our agencies, that we have here in our city are doing great work but we don't as of yet have an accurate collective number...We do know through our chief of police, through emergency services, through the Transition House, that there are numbers and they have grown significantly in the past couple of years."

Having that statistic would help in a number of different ways.

"It also helps with our provincial partners and actually how much funding that they would give. It also helps in the umbrella view of our city in trying to help people," concluded Froese.

Square One is hosting its Empty Bowls soup fundraiser on November 19th at the Timothy Eaton Social Hall.

For more information or if you would like to donate or volunteer go to squareonehousingmoosejaw.com

Square One Community Moose Jaw was established as an agency with the mandate to provide clean, secure housing options for people who face multiple barriers.

Part of the group's mission is to support and advocate for those who are facing homelessness and barriers due to substance abuse, mental health, incarceration, acquired brain injury and other social barriers.