With Yellowknife’s housing first initiative officially off the ground, the hunt for furnishings has begun. 

The initiative was made official during a public contract signing at city hall on Tuesday, after an $834,000 contract was awarded earlier this month to the Yellowknife Women’s Society (YWS).

Now, another community group is stepping in to help the program by using a shipping container to collect goods. Yellowknife Homeful is a group of people from the community who are concerned about homelessness.

“We’ve put a letter together and presented it to the city, requesting that they allow the housing first group to put the sea can at the 50/50 lot with signage on it that identifies the program,” said Gino Pin, a member of the homeful group.

The idea behind a shipping container is that it can be placed at the corner parking lot, where people can drop of donations off items that are needed for the program.

The container could then be used as a storage unit, to be reopened when an individual or family is moving into a unit.

“We want to ensure that the momentum continues and that the business community is aware of what’s required,” said Pin. “There’s quite an intensive list.”

While the idea hasn’t yet been approved by the city, the group has already sourced a container from the Stanton Foundation. Pin says the groups hope the city will be discussing the item and making a decision sometime in the next week or two.

The housing first philosophy is designed to find housing for people who are hard-to-house, such as someone who’s dealing with addiction. Tenants are selected through a “Vulnerability Assessment Tool”, where priority is given to those individuals most at risk of harm.

The YWS has an agreement with Northview Apartment REIT, an apartment rental agency, and hopes to have four clients moved into apartments by the beginning of October. Up to 20 people could be housed by 2019.

The women’s society has begun hiring staff for the initiative, with up to three people expected to join the team by the end of the week.