The Southwest Regional Intersectoral Committee (RIC) released survey results from a community-needs assessment, and mental health, wellness, housing, prevention, and social supports were the things respondents in southwest Saskatchewan collectively found to be the top five priorities.

Housing was the top priority for youth (and third, behind mental health and wellness, overall), and although it means housing in general, and not just emergency shelter, the board for Southwest YES finds the data give them more teeth as they try to reopen Dorie's House in Swift Current.

"For us it's just a reaffirmation of the data," said Southwest YES President Shaun Hanna. "It gives us more ammo when we initiate talks. It's important right? And it's also kind of an affirmation that it's top of mind still in the community."

Dorie's House, run by Southwest YES, was open for a trial run from January, 2017 to October, 2017 and housed teens, regardless of gender, that were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Southwest YES has never secured government funding.

Southwest RIC is composed of the province's ministry of social services, ministry of justice, municipal and rural RCMP in Swift Current, Great Plains College, the United Way, Chinook School Division, Holy Trinity School Division, and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Stacey Schwartz, co-chair for Southwest RIC, said the project was meant to create more awareness and dialogue in the community.

"The whole purpose of this project was to really give a transparent glimpse of understanding our community in the southwest and the different areas," she said. "What are the things that we are doing really well, and the areas that are high priority to individuals, and opportunities for potential highlighting gaps and barriers, and opportunities to help bring in certain aspects to complement those areas?"

Several different components went into collecting the data - there was a survey for youth, a survey for adults, and an all-day meeting with people from human service sectors involved in the public sector, according to Schwartz.

Of the 477 respondents, 70 per cent were female. Adults made up 284 of the responses, while 108 were from youth, and 85 were from attendees at the focus groups with the human service sector.

As well, 70 per cent of respondents were from within Swift Current, with the rest from the southwest. Schwartz said Holy Trinity School Division helped put the survey to students around Shaunavon, while youth on sports teams also got involved.

Although the assessment's primary focus is creating dialogue, Schwartz is happy that there is movement in creating more resources for people in the southwest. She pointed to the June 18 launch in Swift Current of 211 Saskatchewan, which connects people with human services for free and confidentially.

Regarding Dorie's House, Hanna also pointed out that besides housing, social supports, mental health, and wellness are things Southwest YES are "intimately involved in."

The government of Saskatchewan has also been reached out to for comment.

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