Expanding Supports for Individuals Facing Homeless and Addictions Issues During Covid-19

News Releases

Yellowknife — May 4, 2020

Providing supports for those experiencing homelessness and addiction has been a focus throughout the COVID-19 response in the Northwest Territories.

Today those support options have grown with the opening of the new Yellowknife Women’s Centre individual housing suites and the return of regular programming at the Yellowknife Day and Sobering Centre.

Yellowknife Women’s Centre Transitional Housing

Starting today, as part of the COVID-19 homelessness response plan, the suites located in the former Arnica Inn building will start accepting individuals using local shelters who would be at very high risk of serious illness if they were to contract COVID-19. This includes people over the age of 60, those with underlying health conditions like asthma or diabetes, or other vulnerabilities.

This new option was made possible through a partnership between the Yellowknife Women’s Society and the Government of the Northwest Territories.

At this time 25 rooms are available, which is sufficient to meet the need.  There is remaining capacity for additional clients if demand increases.

Day and Sobering Centre

Also starting today the Yellowknife Day and Sobering Centre, operated by the NWT Disabilities Council, will re-establish operations as a drop-in day centre and sobering centre offering services 7 days a week. Services will be adjusted with reduced capacity to accommodate physical distancing.  The expanded day program at the Salvation Army will continue to operate to ensure adequate capacity for day shelter services in Yellowknife.

The goal of the Day and Sobering Centre program remains to provide a safe warm place during the day for individuals facing homelessness and addictions and space for those who need to sleep off the effects of intoxication to have a safe place to sleep with medical oversight. In addition to these goals there is also access to counselling supports, referrals to medical supports, partnerships with other NGOs to access services and access to cultural activities.



“We are meeting the challenges of housing vulnerable populations head on, but we have much more work to do to keep folks safe. Just as we’ve worked in with valued partners like the Yellowknife Women’s Society, NWT Disabilities Council, and Salvation Army, we will continue to work with communities across this territory to keep people safe during this crisis.”

-Diane Thom, Minister of Health and Social Services

“These supports, timely and important, complement each other to form a coordinated and integrated response.  We knew that it was imperative to help persons experiencing homelessness and I am thankful that solutions have been identified and implemented so quickly.  I want to thank our community partners for their hard work on these projects and for their staff who are helping our fellow community members.”

-Paulie Chinna, Minister Responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation and Addressing Homelessness

“We are grateful for the opportunity to support medically vulnerable individuals to reduce their risk of illness and improve their wellness and stability using this facility.  We look forward to continuing our efforts to fully transition this building into supported living units once the concerns associated with COVID-19 no longer pose a risk in our community.” 

-Bree Denning, Executive Director, Yellowknife Women’s Society

“The NWT Disabilities Council’s ‘Sheltering in Place’ model has seen many positive and healthy outcomes. These successes were achieved through; the trust and willingness of the supported individuals to participate and the commitment of our dedicated direct care professionals.”

-Denise McKee, Executive Director, Northwest Territories Disabilities Council


Quick facts

·       The Arnica Inn has a capacity of 43 units, 25 of which are available for this project, with options to adjust according to demand.

·       Each room will come with a chair, a bed, a table, a television, and a telephone.

·       Food will be provided.

·       Safe, steady, and controlled access to alcohol will be provided to those who need it to provide greater stability, and ensure clients are able to isolate.

·       The GNWT continues to support the Yellowknife Women’s Society in its application for federal support to complete the purchase of the Arnica Inn.

·       The NWT Disabilities Council’s Day and Sobering Centre can accommodate 20 individuals at a time in the day centre and 18 people in the sobering centre portion. Hours of operation will be 7:00am – 7:00pm for the day shelter 10:00am – 8:00am for the sobering centre


Relevant link

·       Support for those experiencing homelessness during COVID-19


Media contact:

Cabinet Communications