WATCH ABOVE: According to a recent study, homelessness is on the decline in Edmonton. But as Eric Szeto reports, there’s still more that needs to be done.
Over the course of nine days in Oct. 2014, 6,663 homeless individuals were found in seven cities across the province. The count found that more than half of Alberta’s homeless population resides in Calgary, and over one-third lives in Edmonton. The five other cities that were examined were Wood Buffalo (4.4 per cent), Grande Prairie (2.5 per cent), Lethbridge (2.1 per cent), Red Deer (2.1 per cent) and Medicine Hat (1.0 per cent).
In Edmonton, there’s been a 25 per cent drop over the last six years, from about 3,100 homeless to 2,300.
The province’s Housing First Program is being credited as crucial to the change.
“The Housing First Program really focuses on the chronically homeless and that has made a ton of difference. It’s made a difference in terms of being able to be really focused and ensuring that…people who have not had that experience of being homeless — that duration, that frequency — get different kinds of support,” said Susan McGee of Homeward Trust Edmonton.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done. Some of the key findings in the report include:
- About 11 per cent of the homeless were immigrants.
- Those who reported serving in the Canadian Forces totalled 6 per cent, which is about three times higher than the national average for veterans in the general population.
- Roughly seven per cent of Alberta’s homeless had children with them at the time of the count.
- Youth under the age of 24 accounted for 20 per cent of the homeless population.
- Seniors 65 and over accounted for 3.6 per cent of the sample.
- Aboriginal people were consistently over-represented, averaging about 30 per cent.
- About 18 per cent had been in the community for less than one year, which is considerably higher than rates reported in the general population.
“We are always going to have homeless here,” said Jay Freeman with the Edmonton Homeless Commission. “The trick is we want to reduce chronic homeless to zero. I think that is doable.”
You can see the full report here, or more highlights from it below:
With files from Eric Szeto, Global News