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Edmonton homeless programs need inventive solutions, says police chief

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s homeless programs need inventive solutions, says police chief' Edmonton’s homeless programs need inventive solutions, says police chief
WATCH: Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht says there's been a notable increase in homeless-related calls to the force. Knecht says he's not confident the current plan to end homelessness is working – Apr 9, 2016

Edmonton’s police chief says the homeless population in the city is taking away valuable police resources.

Chief Rod Knecht says there’s been a notable increase in homeless-related calls to the force.

“The homeless issue continues to grow. I don’t think it’s diminishing at all. I think we need to come up with some real inventive solutions,” said Knecht during the “Coffee with the Chief” media event Friday.

Knecht says he’s not confident the current plan to end homelessness is working.

“We’re not getting results. We’ve been running these programs for 10 years.”

The City of Edmonton launched a ’10-Year Plan to End Homelessness’ in 2009. The plan outlined a number of initiatives to lower homeless numbers in the city, including providing housing options and reducing shelter use.

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Homeward Trust also launched a ‘Housing First Program’ in 2009, when there were 3,079 homeless individuals on the street. About 5,500 people found homes through that plan, but Homeward Trust still found about 2,300 homeless individuals in its 2014 count.

READ MORE: Homeless count shows Edmonton’s homeless numbers are stable

Susan McGee from Homeward Trust says she strongly believes that the city’s plan could work provided it receives more funding.

“There’s many aspects of that program that we need to work on that were not funded to date,” said McGee. “The plan anticipated 1,000 (housing) units needed and we have done very little of that work to date.”

McGee says the police force is essential in helping to fight the homeless issue.

“We have a lot more work to do. I think if there was more support, not only from the chief but from others, we could really get some permanent housing built,” McGee said.

Knecht is also hopeful a solution is in the near future.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with the government over the last few months, notably the provincial government,” said Knecht. “Given the fact there’s no new money out there, I think everybody is kind of committed at the government level both provincially and municipally, to say we’ve got to redirect money where we’re wasting money.”

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