Saskatoon woman Lois Mitchell takes on the affordable housing crisis on her own

By Jacob Morgan, Metro News October 15, 2013 - Witnessing what she perceived as a lack of secure housing for people with health issues in Saskatoon inspired Lois Mitchell to take matters into her own hands. Three years ago she rented a property in Riversdale to provide a safe environment for those who need it most.

“I did it with the intention of giving a home to a friend of mine who was living in a nursing home and wasn’t doing very well. I knew that she would do better here,” Mitchell told Metro.

However, when her friend passed away, the project took on a whole new form. She now has six men living with her, most of who have lived on the street and struggled with addiction.

“It’s been a matter of figuring out how to manage and that’s what I’ve been working on,” said Mitchell. “That’s how this house has evolved.”

One of the elements of recovery she emphasizes is nutrition and learning essential life skills. A volunteer comes in on a weekly basis to coach the renters on proper eating habits.

“Nutrition has to be part of any program that’s designed to help people become independent and take care of themselves,” she said.

Eventually she would like to expand the initiative with more mentorship services and resources to pay her volunteers. But to do that she needs funding.

Randy Robinson knows Mitchell as a fellow member of the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition. He said that while her sobriety house is a “brilliant idea,” accessing funding could be a challenge.

“The federal money is really a pittance compared to what we need, and the provincial money basically goes to their own housing units,” said Robinson.

“Maybe as we move along the private sector will start to realize we’re paying way more taxes because we’re allowing people to live homeless.”

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