Edmonton homelessness drops 24% in 2 years: Homeward Trust

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Number of homeless Edmontonians drops
WATCH ABOVE: The number of homeless Edmontonians is down according to new numbers from Homeward Trust. But as Quinn Ohler reports, Edmonton still has a lot of work to do in trying to end homelessness – Nov 29, 2016

Efforts to decrease homelessness in Edmonton appear to be working, as the latest count shows there are nearly a quarter fewer people sleeping on city streets compared to two years ago.

2016 homeless count results

Homeward Trust’s biennial homeless count is used to track changes and trends in Edmonton. On Oct. 19, 250 volunteers conducted a 24-hour long count of the city’s homeless population.

The 2016 count recorded 1,752 homeless people in Edmonton. It’s a 24 per cent drop since the last count in 2014, which was done only months after the staggering slide in oil prices began in June of 2014. That count found just over 2,300 people were homeless in the city.

The 2016 count numbers show while indigenous people only make up five per cent of the city’s population, they made up 48 per cent of homeless people on Edmonton streets.

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“Despite the numbers dropping, there are still 1,752 Edmontonians without a home, with 70 per cent of those identified as chronically homeless,” Susan McGee, CEO of Homeward Trust Edmonton, said.

“We know this count does not reflect the growing number of people and families who are struggling to make ends meet, and to keep a roof over their heads.”

McGee said this year’s numbers also showed a 51 per cent drop in the number of homeless families. Homeward Trust will release a full 2016 homeless count report, including analysis, in the new year.

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Then and now

The numbers also show since 2008, homelessness has gone down by 43 per cent. In 2009, the City of Edmonton and the province launched a 10-year plan to end homelessness.

“The preliminary 2016 count numbers show we are still on the right track, but we need to continue to work together in our community to bring an end to homelessness in our city,” Jay Freeman, executive director of Housing and Homelessness at the City, said.

The Bissell Centre said its Housing Services programs have helped 545 people since the 2014 homeless count was done.

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“We are proud of the work that our teams have done to be innovative and effective with finding housing for people who are homeless in our city,” Gary St. Amand, CEO of Bissell Centre, said. “At the same time, there are still over 1,700 people who are homeless in our city, so we need to continue to find appropriate housing options.”

The City of Edmonton said the overall population increased 2.5 per cent from 2014 to 2016.

Provincial homelessness numbers

This year was the first time that Alberta’s seven largest cities conducted their count on the same day.

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Across Alberta, 5,373 people were counted as experiencing homelessness. That number represents a 19.2 per cent decrease in the number of people without a home from 2014 to 2016, and a 31 per cent decrease in homelessness across the province since 2008.

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