With a shortage of housing in Moose Jaw, it's been a challenge finding a home for individuals displaced from the evacuation of the Stadacona Apartments, which occurred earlier this week.

The City of Moose Jaw and the Moose Jaw Fire Department ordered an emergency evacuation of the building on Tuesday due to safety concerns.

Officially there were about two dozen people displaced, however, the actual number of people who called the building home was probably closer to 50.

Jody Oakes is the manager of judicial programs and branch services for the John Howard Society of Moose Jaw, which has been helping to relocate the occupants.

"A number of individuals that we know that stayed there," she said. "Maybe they stayed there just at night or they were there just to be with community or use a washroom."

Many of the tenants were clients of the John Howard Society's My Place Program.

"With the My Place Program we do a lot of outreach with individuals who we don't have housing for and we know that there's a great need for housing and definitely a shortage of housing in our community," explained Oakes.

Social Services has put the majority of people up in hotels right now. Some of the individuals did have leases and tenancy in the building, however many of them were people who did not have housing.

Stadacona ApartmentsThe apartment building is located at 79 Stadacona Street West. 

In a written statement, Social Services says it is working closely with community partners to meet the needs of the people who were impacted by the evacuation.

Workers from Social Services attended the apartment building along with other service providers on Oct. 3 to connect impacted individuals to housing, income support and community services. The government agency supported 30 people onsite during the day and evening, with five additional people coming forward to be connected to emergency supports.

Social Services will be providing support to ensure their needs are met past the long weekend and will work with them to develop longer-term plans to connect them to stable housing in their community.

Oakes says the response from the community has been amazing.

"From the city manager to our transportation department, to social services, to the police, the PACT team, Moose Jaw Housing, the food bank has reached out. So many agencies have come together. We're really working together to try and help individuals. Us and social services are working very closely to see what we can do and make sure that people have places right now to go to and see what we can do for the long term."

Many of the people left with only a bag of two of belongings for their hotel stay.

While the decision to evacuate the apartment block was the right decision, Oakes says the building was 'home' for those who lived there.

"A lot of people in there have struggled with a lot of health issues and a lot of trauma and don't have a lot of family maybe and are just kind of on their own. They need that extra support. It was home to them and it was their community. All the people in the building knew each other and were there for each other."

The John Howard Society is accepting clothing and hygiene donations, in addition to cash.

Items can be dropped off at the office at 15 Hochelaga Street West.

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