Calgary’s homeless count stable despite growing population

Calgary's homeless have several non-profit foundations they can go to for help, such as the Drop-In Centre and Mustard Seed. Global News

CALGARY –  Despite rising rents, a lack of affordable housing and a growing population, the latest count shows Calgary’s homeless numbers are stable.

The count in October found there were 3,531 homeless people in Calgary – a decrease of two people from the count in January of this year.

The count was conducted on Wednesday, October 15-23th, 2014 in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Wood Buffalo, and Grande Prairie.

6,600 homeless people were counted across Alberta, with Calgary accounting for 54 per cent of that total. That is putting a greater strain on services such as health care, transportation and services for the homeless including shelters.

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Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Friday the legalization of secondary suites remains a top priority.

“I think it’s a crime that city council has not been able to grapple with this issue, particularly in this environment.”

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The report on the homeless count found there has been an overall drop of two per cent in Calgary since 2008, when Calgary launched a 10 -year plan to end homelessness. The  Calgary Homeless Foundation estimates it has moved more than 6,000 people off the streets since the plan began.

 A Snapshot of Calgary’s homeless population:

—  50% of those counted were in emergency shelter and 36% were in a short-term housing facility.

—  A further 5% were sleeping rough (in parks, on the street, etc.) and 9% were sheltered in a public system (hospital, jail, etc.).

Demographic trends:

—  The gender breakdown for individuals was 74% male, 24% female

—  There were 211 families with 329 children

—  364 youth were identified

—  20% of the homeless identified as Aboriginal

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