A new emergency shelter was officially opened in Saskatoon on Thursday which will provide temporary accommodations to people struggling with addictions issues who would otherwise be living on the street.

The 20 new beds are located within Lighthouse Supported Living on 20th Street East.

Tracy Muggli, director of mental health and addictions services with the Saskatoon Health Region, says the new shelter addresses a much needed demand for additional facilities for people dealing with drug and alcohol issues in the city that don’t have any place to go.

“So this is fantastic because it’s a different way to shelter people who are intoxicated who may or may not be ready to take those next steps but at least they are going to be safe,” she says. “They’re not going to be outside in the middle of the winter potentially freezing. So this is an opportunity to make sure that everyone has a shelter over their head, regardless of what their situation is in terms of addiction and where they’re headed in terms of their own personal recovery process.”

Shaun Dyck, the executive director of the Saskatchewan Housing Initiatives Partnership, adds the new emergency shelter will relieve a lot of the pressure that is currently on the brief detox centre in Saskatoon.

“The only service like that was the brief detox unit in Saskatoon,” he says. “So, they were doing some great work but I know they were getting taxed with being full and often people end up in cells or in the hospital. So, this is alleviating some of the pressure in the system.”

Dyck also says Thursday’s announcement is only the first phase of an initiative which will eventually see about 30 permanent shelter beds located within the Lighthouse facility.

The new beds are part of a close to $600,000 initiative which includes a number of renovations at the Lighthouse shelter in the kitchen, office, and cafeteria facilities.

Muggli says on any given night there can be as many as 360 people without shelter on the streets of Saskatoon.