Statement on the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners’ letter on homelessness and “complex needs” to the Saskatchewan Government

SASKATOON – United Way Saskatoon and Area (United Way) welcomes the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners’ recent letter to the Saskatchewan Minister of Health, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Minister of Social Services requesting increased long-term support for people with complex needs experiencing homelessness. The United Way funded Journey Home program, which is managed by Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service (SCIS), is an example of an effective and collaborative solution to this pressing challenge.

“One of the priorities of Journey Home is to get chronically homeless individuals with mental health and substance use challenges into housing, and provide an ongoing support system,” said Sheri Benson, chief executive officer at United Way. “Thanks to this unique program, dozens of people each year leave the streets and return to being housed in an environment where they receive the support they need to remain in their home and a part of the community.”

The program is also cost effective when compared to a reliance on emergency services, such as shelters and policing.

“For the price of a modest home in Saskatoon, Journey Home assists nearly a hundred people with complex needs experiencing homelessness each year,” said Benson. “Outside the compelling moral and social reasons to help people who are struggling in our community, the high cost of policing and healthcare for these individuals alone is worth the investment. We should build on the Journey Home experience and learn from its successes.”

The provincial government in response to the commissioner’s letter also highlighted the importance of ministries and agencies working together to ensure people receive support when and where they need it. Journey Home is an excellent example of this type of collaboration.

“The conversation that’s taking place right now is a reminder that poverty is a complex challenge requiring a collaborative community-led effort and is not a problem policing or any single agency can solve on their own,” said Benson. “We won’t solve this challenge overnight or by working in silos. But as a community, we can learn from Journey Home and scale its impact, making life in our community better and safer for everyone.”

Thanks to the generosity of Saskatchewan donors, United Way has provided over $4.5 million in funding to Journey Home since 2014.



Journey Home provides people experiencing chronic homelessness an opportunity to have a home while receiving ongoing support. The goal of Journey Home is to provide immediate access to adequate and affordable housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness and collaborating with them to address unmet physical and mental health issues, financial, social, and spiritual needs.

Initiated in 2014, this Housing First program is a partnership between United Way Saskatoon and Area and Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service. The program has successfully provided housing and support to dozens of people in Saskatoon with complex needs experiencing homelessness.

To learn more, please visit the Journey Home webpage


For 65 years, United Way Saskatoon and Area has fostered partnerships with the goal of bringing people and resources together to build a vibrant and caring community. Through collaboration, we move people from poverty to possibility, help build strong communities and supports kids to be all that they can be.

Each year, United Way mobilizes millions of dollars in community investment, hundreds of community-minded volunteers and organizes dozens of community building projects to make life in our communities better and safer for everyone.

To learn more, please visit the United Way Saskatoon and Area website


Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service (SCIS) intervenes and manages social, emotional, and psychological emergencies for people experiencing acute and ongoing crisis 24 hours each day, 365 days of the year. Established in 1980, SCIS is a non-profit community-based organization that provides crisis intervention services to anyone living in Saskatoon who is experiencing distress and needing immediate help.

To learn more, please visit the SCIS website.


Dan Matthews
Associate Director, Marketing and Communications
United Way Saskatoon and Area

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