The group offers a second location for a halfway house

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Saskatchewan John Howard Society CEO Shawn Fraser answers a question from Ward 8 Council. Ted Zurakowski at a council meeting on February 22, 2021. (Peter Lozinski / Daily Herald)

A second application for a group home for at-risk young men will be presented to Prince Albert City Council on Monday as the John Howard Society seeks to help deter young people from joining gangs.

This application is for a five bedroom house in the West Flat area and would provide services to residents around the clock.

“We call it Redemption Home,” said Shawn Fraser, CEO of the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan. “All of the comments so far have been welcoming and encouraging.”

Several organizations submitted letters of support, including the West Flat Citizens Group.

The home is designed for Indigenous men aged 16 to 24 who are at greater risk of joining gangs as they age outside of provincial care.

“These are people who may be leaving the youth care system, but it’s a catchment area and a pretty large demographic,” Fraser said.

A previous application for a residence near Kinsmen Park met with some resistance and the council did not approve a development application in February, citing concerns about a nearby high school and the park itself.

The programming is unique with some of the emphasis on land-based education.

“People who participate in this program can expect to spend a lot of time outdoors and with employment and cultural supports,” Fraser explained.

The John Howard Society was operating in Prince Albert decades ago, but shut down in the 1980s. They are now working on a recovery and believe they have found a good location in their new app.

In 2020, the Company signed a contract with the federal government for the delivery of the program.

They work with the Riverbank Development Corporation, a local non-profit organization that provides affordable housing in a variety of ways.

Right now they are renting a house in Riverbank, but the request that will go to council on Monday is to change the zoning of the site to allow for a group home.

The nature of the program is transitional, so young people will be in it for six to 18 months.

“We receive referrals from agencies around Prince Albert. It could be social services, it could be other support organizations. We’re lucky because we’re just starting the program so we have to be selective, ”said Fraser.

Beyond the group home, they also help young people find their own accommodation such as an apartment and then accompany them until the person is ready to become fully independent.

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