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Progress made, but much work remains to end homelessness in Edmonton

The city says there is still much work to be done in order to end chronic homelessness in Edmonton by 2019. Global News

EDMONTON – Halfway through its 10-year plan to end homelessness, the City of Edmonton says steady progress is being made. However, city officials say there is still much work that needs to be done in hopes of reaching their goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2019.

“Edmonton’s Plan to End Homelessness has established our city as a leader in Canada in realizing social change, and the results show it,” said Mayor Don Iveson, while addressing a room full of people at the Stanley A. Milner library.

Edmonton’s Homeless Commission released its five-year update Thursday. So far, permanent homes have been found for 2,909 people who had previously been living on the streets. Of those, 84 per cent have stayed in their new homes.

But while progress is being made, Mayor Don Iveson feels the city has reached a “delicate point.”

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“We have achieved a great deal, but as I said, it’s going to get a little bit harder, and a little bit harder, and a little bit harder. And it’s going to require the renewed focus of all of us.”

READ MORE: Edmonton a shining example of reducing homelessness: report

Iveson says there’s significant work that needs to be done when it comes to finding permanent, supportive housing for the city’s most vulnerable. The city’s plan calls for 1,000 housing units to be built by this year. Right now, Iveson says the city is sitting at 466.

“We are behind where we need to be on these incredibly important units for people who have more complex challenges.”

A lack of affordable housing and high rents are somewhat to blame, the city says. In addition, there are many new people moving to Edmonton and not all of them are self-sufficient when they arrive.

“They don’t bring their doctors with them, they don’t bring their schools with them and it’s one of the realities that we face,” said Hal Danchilla, chair of the Edmonton Homeless Commission. “We have a very unique city and a city that people want to come to.”

From here, the city says its plan will shift toward housing those who are most vulnerable, with complex needs.

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Funding from the Alberta Government for homeless supports was frozen for the plan’s fifth year, but an increase is planned for year six.

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